The 5+5 Dialogue as a Mechanism of Integration and Regional Cooperation

22 enero 2022 | Policy Study | Inglés


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Senén Florensa

This publication is the outcome of the work undertaken after the international conference “The 5+5 Dialogue as a Mechanism of Integration and Regional Cooperation: For a common reflection on the Western Mediterranean” that was held in Barcelona in May 2016 and covered a broad range of thematic areas of cooperation within the 5+5 Dialogue.

The organization of this event brought together more than forty academics and representatives of think tanks and institutes of public diplomacy from the ten Western Mediterranean countries. A permanent network amongst these organizations was launched after the adoption at the conference of a joint final declaration. The latter stated the will of the recently established Med Think 5+5 network to serve as a platform of research and dissemination of the works carried out by the Dialogue 5+5.

Because of this, the meeting led to the preparation of a first Joint Policy Study entirely devoted to the Western Mediterranean Forum. Each paper, commissioned to a selected scholar who participated in the Barcelona Conference, focuses on one of the existing ministerial formats of the 5+5 Dialogue with a view to assessing the state of the art in the field and formulating policy options on a set of issues, which are central to the cooperation in the region.

The publication is one of great value as it provides a general view of the main challenges that the Western Mediterranean countries have to face but also solutions that favor greater commitment to the improvement of cooperation amongst these ten countries. At the same time, it serves as a pill of reality as it unveils one of the authors in a critic manner due to the missed opportunities as result of the lack of integration between both shores of the Mediterranean and within the Maghreb region itself.

Following the structure of the Barcelona Conference sessions, the policy study is divided in three thematic chapters. The first one, “Political dialogue, regional security and stability” focuses on the strengthening of democracy in the Western Mediterranean while keeping special attention to the multiple forms of political dialogue and initiatives within the Euro- Mediterranean region. It also offers a review of the security architecture in the Maghreb region, cooperation in the field of defense, and the stability and strength of the countries in the region going forward.

The second chapter, “Economic and development challenges”, reviews the severe repercussions of the crisis on some of the leading economic sectors. It touches upon the state of trade and investment in the Western Mediterranean countries and it gives a broad vision of the utility and the role of transport infrastructures and networks as a mechanism of integration. The concept of a sustainable development is also a challenge that countries need to further commit to and, in this sense, the study of more sustainable plans of water management and energy consumption.

Finally, a third chapter dedicated to “Social challenges, migrations, education and youth” provides a well-rounded explanation to the needs of improving the cooperation between the Western Mediterranean countries by exploiting potential complementarities, not only in the field of migration, but also in the promotion and development of common areas of interest, such as health and education.

The publication of this Joint Policy Study aims to disseminate the research conducted by experts from several think tanks and public diplomacy institutions, while redounding to the benefit of the 5+5 Dialogue. It also represents the interest of civil society by engaging in initiatives that are based on the exchange of knowledge and research, with the ultimate goal of providing policy approaches and recommendations that will help address the several regional challenges that the Western Mediterranean faces.


Roger Albinyana

The 5+5 Dialogue is an informal sub-regional forum for the Western Mediterranean that since 1990 has brought together five countries from the north (Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal) with five countries from the south (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia).

It emerged as an initiative at a time when the European Community was expanding its Mediterranean policy with the launch in the European Council Summit in December 1990 of the Renewed Mediterranean Policy. This was a consequence of the failure of the Global Mediterranean Policy (1972-1990) that did not come up to expectations as it was aimed only at fostering bilateral trade, without encouraging the growth of investment in the countries of the south or regional integration.

The international political situation was marked by the disintegration of the USSR and the crisis unleashed by the first Gulf War. In this context, the European Union adopted a new focus to approach the growing challenges from the neighbouring countries of the south, distancing itself from the American stance based on preventive war, and embracing the thesis that it was necessary to support its southern neighbours sharing its security model based on democracy and the market economy. This thesis was precisely what marked the emergence of sub-regional initiatives such as the 5+5 Dialogue or regional initiatives such as the Barcelona Process, launched at the Ministerial meeting in November 1995, with the subsequent creation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (1995-2008) and, later, the European Neighbourhood Policy (2004) and the Union for the Mediterranean (2008).

Therefore, the relationship between the 5+5 Dialogue and the different regional cooperation organisations is relevant and has been growing closer, although the former has a more clearly intergovernmental character. In particular, the relationship is fruitful with three of these institutions: the European Union, especially with the European Commission and the European External Action Service, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Arab Maghreb Union.

A few years ago, a debate emerged over the decision of the ministerial meetings to expand the 5+5 Dialogue with another member on the northern side (Greece) and one on the southern (Egypt). Negotiations advanced but were frustrated by the French initiative to create a Union for the Mediterranean in the Paris Summit of 13 July 2008, just as in 1994 when Egypt, feeling excluded from the 5+5 Dialogue, convinced France to create the Mediterranean Forum, an intergovernmental regional cooperation body, which was overshadowed by the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in 1995.

With the invigoration of the Union for the Mediterranean, which has a diligent and efficient secretariat in Barcelona and since 2015 once again has had, albeit informally, meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs alongside the usual sectoral ministerial meetings, the creation of synergies with the 5+5 Dialogue has become a pressing need. Some specific examples of this occasional and growing collaboration between the multilateral partnerships are seen in the UfM’s mandate to play a catalysing role in the future shape of the European Neighbourhood Policy, or in the sectoral sphere of higher education and scientific research of the Western Mediterranean Forum, in which it has been decided that the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean will be the technical secretariat in this field.

More than that, the UfM Secretary General has become a regular attendee of the 5+5 Dialogue’s Foreign Affairs Ministerial Meetings. This greater acknowledgement of the role that the UfM has in structuring the regional dialogue and cooperation across the Mediterranean has been increasingly reflected in the ministerial declarations of the 5+5 Dialogue.

In this regard, it is necessary to address some underlying questions: can the cooperation forged by the Western Mediterranean Forum be strengthened without losing inclusiveness and cohesion amongst its member states? Can this cooperation framework further benefit regional integration across the Mediterranean?

Undoubtedly, the informal and non-institutional nature of the Dialogue has proven effective in asserting the perdurability of that setting. Whereas the Eastern Mediterranean region entered a spiral of crisis and conflicts, not least because of the Arab-Israeli conflict that dominated the EU-Mediterranean relations at large, Western Mediterranean cooperation has functioned relatively well. Since its establishment, the thematic areas of cooperation have rapidly expanded from four to ten, allowing a broad number of sectoral formats to be covered through regular ministerial and technical meetings. In this respect, further institutionalisation could harm the prospects of this multilateral alliance, but expanding the areas of cooperation or deepening the formats of such cooperation could strongly benefit it. Likewise, in pursuing the creation of stronger complementarities with existing regional institutions in the Mediterranean a greater technical role could be given to the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean following the example with the 5+5 Dialogue’s sphere of higher education and research.

Based upon the Valletta Declaration from October 2012, representatives of thirty-three research think tanks and public diplomacy institutions from member states of the 5+5 Dialogue decided to establish a network entitled Med Think 5+5 at a meeting in Barcelona in May 2016. This conference was convened by the European Institute of the Mediterranean with the presence of the 5+5 Dialogue’s co-presidency and the Secretary General of the UfM. The network is expected to respond to three basic needs within the system of the 5+5 Dialogue:

• To become a platform for dialogue on the various thematic areas of cooperation within the 5+5 Dialogue

• To become a platform of joint research amongst the research think tanks and public diplomacy institutions associated with the initiative

• To become a platform of dissemination and external communication that will redound to the benefit of the 5+5 Dialogue

This is a very timely moment to review what is at stake and what has been achieved through this multilateral partnership. Over the last fifteen years, new initiatives have been launched due to the general dissatisfaction with the outcomes of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in promoting sustainable political reforms and fostering social and economic development in view of the setbacks or lack of meaningful progress in multilateral cooperation. We now know that this frustration was generated by events that were deliberately not part of its remit. In this regard, a European Neighbourhood Policy was not only launched but adapted to the drastic changes that were imposed after 2011 in the region, a Union for the Mediterranean was established and is equipped with an effective secretariat in Barcelona, and the EU is now furnished with a global strategy that pays special attention to the region, among many others. Yet cooperation at the regional level faces many future challenges, and that is where the added value of the 5+5 Dialogue resides, provided that complementarities and additionality continue to exist with the other cooperation structures.

Political Dialogue, Regional Security And Stability

Strengthening Political Dialogue and Democracy in the Western Mediterranean

Roberto Aliboni, Scientific Advisor, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome

EU-Maghreb Relations in the Post-2011 Context

Changes in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel since 2011 as well as in Europe have made EU initiatives of cooperation in the Mediterranean broadly less attractive and effective, perhaps obsolete. There is no doubt that the EU needs to adopt a more realistic approach towards the Mediterranean, based more on partners’ ownership than its own values and expectations.

More realism and pragmatism is precisely what does inspire the approach of the new EU Foreign Policy Strategy, as it is presented in the last version made available by the EU [1]. This makes us believe that, while remaining open to all the countries comprising the Mediterranean area, the EU will develop more intense and significant relations with countries willing to cooperate, thus reinforcing a trend built in its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) since the beginning. So, more than ever, the key word is differentiation, although within a broad regional policy framework that will make differentiation distinct from pure bilateralism.

In this perspective, one has to note that post-2011 developments have had a remarkably diverse impact on the Mashreq and the Maghreb. This has in fact significantly differentiated EU relations with the two Mediterranean areas: while the EU’s relations with the countries of the Levant (including Turkey) have been downgraded, become problematic and in some cases almost ceased to exist (as for Syria), mutual attractiveness and interest in relations between the Maghreb and EU countries are continuing. This difference is certainly not new, yet in the emerging Euro- Mediterranean context it seems to be strengthening.

Furthermore, in this framework, the Maghreb and the EU countries suffer the same repercussions from the conflicts and the crises in the Mashreq, in particular when it comes to security. That is bound to contribute to bringing them closer to one another as well as facilitating political dialogue and possibly opening the way to more genuine political cooperation.

Finally, while conflict in the Mashreq is coupled with an exponential increase in authoritarianism, societies in the Maghreb appear to be open to social and political change, to different degrees, and are in some cases actively promoting democracy.

Reinforced mutual interest in each other, exposure to similar security threats and attention to political reform suggest that EU-Maghreb relations are taking on a privileged and positive character within the emerging framework of inter-Mediterranean relations. If this is true, it is clear that it is high time for EU-Maghreb relations to be more focused and stronger.

The 5+5 Western Mediterranean Forum

In this new scenario, while the EU will continue with its differentiated yet all-Mediterranean approach in the framework of the ENP and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), what about the sub-regional 5+5 Western Mediterranean Forum (WMF)?

The WMF is an informal group. It debates issues of interest to its members without making decisions and then leaving them free to implement or not the conclusions worked out by the Ministries in their Declarations. An annual presidency, flanked by the previous one, sets out the agenda. Deliberations are prepared by meetings of the members’ senior officials and, sometimes, by ad hoc working groups. There is no implementation mechanism as the latter is just not contemplated by the Forum. So, in no way is the WMF an institution nor does it have a constraining character. It is a kind of broad confidence-building measure in the framework of relations among concerned governments.

Authors who have delved into the issue argue that there is a kind of adverse relationship between effectiveness and inclusiveness: if one tries to increase effectiveness by introducing institutional or other constraints, inclusiveness and cohesion may suffer, even dramatically. At the same time, they agree that the WMF’s force or virtue is precisely due to its “modesty” [2]. Today, however, if the opportunities provided by the EU-Maghreb’s emerging closeness are to be brought to bear, a new balance should be found. In principle, the WMF should be upgraded so as to play a more important and effective role than in the past.

But, could effectiveness in the WMF be increased without affecting inclusiveness? As of today, this does not seem feasible because of obstacles on both the southern and northern side of the WMF.

On the southern side, at the roots of the negative WMF trade-off between effectiveness and inclusiveness there are unsolved political conflicts between Maghreb countries – all deriving from the Western Sahara issue – conflicts that, on the other hand, do not seem prone to solution in the short-middle terms. Besides, these unsolved conflicts and the civil war in Algeria during the 1990s have prevented the Arab Maghreb Union – established by the 1989 Treaty of Marrakesh – from actually being enforced. In a vicious circle, the Western Sahara conflict prevents regional cooperation and the lack of such cooperation hinders any effective political and economic inter-regional cooperation with both neighbouring Southern Europe and the EU.

On the northern side, the European partners in the Forum follow a reactive and opportunistic policy which certainly does not help the WMF getting to overcome its “modesty”: the overall good relations within the WMF are instrumentalised by European members to improve their own individual bilateral relations. They do not make any effort to engage in Maghreb conflict resolution, because this would put inclusiveness in jeopardy, with the risk of destroying the mediocre yet advantageous good relations. While this state of affairs is preventing the WMF from growing as effective inter-regional cooperation, it is not preventing European countries from accruing national benefits bilaterally.

All this is strongly narrowing the possibilities to actually upgrade the WMF with a view to improve EU-Maghreb relations in circumstances that may broadly favour that very feat instead.

Nonetheless, improvements are not impossible. As a matter of fact, there have been improvements in WMF effectiveness with regard to defence as well as economic cooperation. Since 2012, the interaction between the WMF and the UfM – as suggested by the EU Commission in the 2012 Malta Summit – is allowing for common projects to be implemented by the UfM acting as WMF “opérateur”. As for defence, since December 2004 the ministries of the ten countries have in fact worked out a number of common projects that they manage by means of a light yet effective and regular inter-ministerial cooperation – the “Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Center” (VRMTC) being perhaps the most significant of such projects [3].

However, it is when it comes to the political realm that progress without changing the informal character of the WMF looks decidedly uneasy. The chances for strengthening democratic reform and political dialogue in the WMF within the narrow margins left by current conditions is considered next.

Political Dialogue and Democracy in the WMF

Political dialogue reaches out to its purpose in two ways: (a) political dialogue proper, which is played out through consultations and declarations on specific issues of political interest to the parties, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and (b) thematic dialogue taking place by means of inter-members’ conferences and working groups on diverse fields, such as security, civil society, migration and possibly other issues of political significance. In some cases, the thematic dialogue has given way to common action, as happens essentially in the field of defence and to some extent among the ministries of interiors with regard to security issues (intelligence, fight against terrorism, migration, etc.).

Based on this conceptualisation, a first cursory analysis of the governmental and ministerial declarations issued so far [4] suggests that the main issues currently acquiring prominence in EU-Maghreb and Western Mediterranean relations today are: democracy and reform, security, migration/mobility; and the need to encourage and include civil society actors and their activities in the WMF framework.

In this perspective, two main objectives need to be pursued with a view to widening the WMF’s political role in the broader EU-Mediterranean policy framework without having any recourse to institutionalisation processes which, as of today, remain out of sight:

• Enhancing and focusing the WMF agenda by taking more open note of the privileged and closer relationship that post-2011 events have brought about;

• Improving coordination between the political dialogues taking place in the WMF and the EU-Mediterranean policy frameworks.

As for enhancing the agenda, the Presidency, possibly in concert with the UfM Presidency and the EU High Representative, needs to focus on the issues we have just mentioned as most prominent in current EU-Maghreb and Western Mediterranean relations. These issues are strongly inter-related and certainly key in the context of ongoing developments. They need to be debated with a view to providing ideas for substantive cooperation. While security and migration are dealt with by other contributions in this report, let us elaborate a little on the need to strengthen reforms and civil societies.

Political reforms and shared democratic values, mentioned in the 1991 Algiers Declaration, were resumed by the ministers only in 2003 in the meeting organised by Tunisia (probably not by chance). Since then, the ministers have hailed their attachment to democracy almost regularly. A democratic perspective is well on track in Tunisia, Mauritania and Morocco. Because of the civil war it has receded but is ready to re-emerge in Libya. It is not absent in Algeria, where a lively debate is prevented from translating into change because of the broad political paralysis which has prevailed in the country for so long. In order to help strengthen democracy in the Maghreb, democratic reform should be recalled in the ministerial declarations by alluding to specific dimensions (such as security sector reform, justice, transitional justice, freedoms, etc.) rather or further than in its broad terms. These dimensions could be turned into as many themes of political dialogue, giving way to meetings and working groups and, just in case, shared action. Participation of civil society actors in debating these themes – as we will argue later – would certainly increase effectiveness in the endeavour of strengthening democracy in the WMF framework.

In fact, a more effective agenda on democracy and reform is strongly related to a more effective presence of civil society and its activities in that same agenda and, more broadly speaking, by its participation as an actor in the WMF framework. The inclusion of civil society in the WMF arose at first in the framework of the ministers’ efforts directed at consolidating and deepening the Forum and its reach. The inclusion of a parliamentary dimension, civil society actors, decentralised cooperation, youth and territorial representatives has firmly entered WMF Declarations since the 2010 ministerial meeting in Tunis. Since then, civil society has regularly appeared in the Declarations.

In this framework, a dialogue between the WMF official organisation and the network of think tanks dealing with international relations and security in the WMF member countries would be extremely helpful. Setting up such a network was already suggested in the official Declaration of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the WMF in October 2012. The IEMed has now taken up that suggestion. Because of the informal framework it can provide, WMF governments and WMF think tanks will be able to discuss political issues, as delicate as they may be, on the basis of independent analysis in a non-engaging environment. The informal setting will also allow for a strong increase in contacts with official and non-official figures. This will help make the WMF more effective without losing its informal character.

Stronger involvement and mobilisation of civil societies – thus going beyond think tanks and taking on board other non-official sectors – could also be a way for the WMF to add value to efforts carried out in broader Euro-Mediterranean institutions and bilateral relations. Civil society participation is mostly relevant to promoting the strengthening of democracy in a bottom-up perspective, as it eliminates the official interference from outside that makes efforts to promote democracy hardly acceptable to Mediterranean partners. In this sense, because of its informal character, the WMF looks particularly suited to the task of involving civil societies and bringing civil society’s interest in and inclination towards change and participation to bear, outside any official interference.

In this context, one could also imagine the WMF evolving from the purely intergovernmental grouping it is today to a kind of more complex grouping in which governments and civil society actors work together with a view to establishing deep layers of grass roots integration in the concerned states, bound in turn to facilitate political cooperation among governments. This is the bottom-up approach which characterises the Northern Dimension, a grouping between Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, on one side, and the Russian Federation, on the other. This grouping successfully operates and coordinates with the EU on the eastern side of the European neighbourhood in a subregional perspective.

As for improving coordination, the WMF needs to empower itself by increasing its capacity to draft programmes and implement its own stated objectives. This does not necessarily mean institutionalising relations. The template comes from inside the WMF itself, with its 2004 “Defence Initiative”. This initiative set up a Steering Committee of officials from the national ministries tasked with planning common actions and coordinating and monitoring their implementation in their respective administrations.

By the same token, while the Foreign Ministries’ Senior Officials already meet to coordinate the agenda of the Ministries, a Steering Committee of officials from the Foreign Ministries should be set up with a view to working in two directions: first, following the model of the WMF “Defence Initiative”, in the national foreign ministries; second, as a caucus in the Senior Officials Committee of the UfM. In practice, the ten diplomats appointed by member governments in the UfM Senior Officials Committee would be the same ones appointed to the WMF caucus; they would follow up WMF activities in their national ministries and provide an interface between the WMF and UfM activities.

In the context of emerging EU-Maghreb relations, the WMF does not need to be turned into another organisation for cooperation and lose the benefits of its informal, nonconstraining, non-institutional setting. With a few corrections and additions it can and must become more influential and effective in creating a new balance in the constellation of existing Euro-Mediterranean cooperation initiatives. At the same time, strengthening the WMF and making it more action-oriented is something the governments should not rule out. Rather, governments should concentrate on this purpose. Also, they should do it as soon as possible with a view to catching the emerging opportunities of a closer EU-Maghreb illustrated at the beginning of this paper.


[1] The European Union in a changing global environment. A more connected, contested and complex world, http://eeas.europa. eu/docs/strategic_review/eu-strategic-review_strategic_review_en.pdf

[2] Coustillière Jean-François (2012), L’initiative «5+5» face au nouveau contexte en Méditerranée occidentale, EuroMeSCo, Brief 44, June,; FMES (2014), Le Dialogue 5+5: levier au service d’une reconfiguration des relations euroméditerranéennes, Colloque 2014, Marseille, Les Presses du Midi, December.

[3] See the presentation by Gilles Boidevezi in FMES, cit., pp. 70-71.

[4] The political declarations issued so far comprise two declarations by the Heads of States and Governments (in 2003 and 2012) and 15 declarations by the Foreign Affairs ministers. This author did not manage to find the 2001 Lisbon and 2005 Malta Declarations.

The Promise and Peril of the Maghreb: Risks and Instability in the Maghreb and Western Mediterranean

Anouar Boukhars, Researcher and Associate Professor, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Crisis and upheaval in Europe’s southern periphery have shaken the strategic landscape of regional security in the Western Mediterranean. The Arab uprisings radically transformed the political and security environment within some countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean (Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya). The resultant political tumult and the proliferation of transnational violent extremist groups and organized criminal networks, including human smugglers and drug traffickers, have stirred major security concerns in Europe. The initial response of European policy-makers to the tectonic shifts transpiring in the Maghreb, however, seemed quite promising. As early as March 2011, EU leaders brandished the tantalizing lure of a strategic partnership with countries of the Southern Mediterranean that was to be underpinned by money, market access and mobility.

This “three Ms” approach seemed bold and transformative, a much-needed break from the lame policies of the past. Unfortunately, the much heralded EU support to its southern neighbors never really transpired. The new approach mainly repackaged and recycled the same old piecemeal policies and instruments that failed to spur political reforms and address the economic needs of countries buffeted by multiple internal and external shocks. EU policy towards the Maghreb is still reflective of the disjointed self-interests of member states who favor their own short-term political and security interests. For example, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which was launched in 2004 and governs the EU’s relations with its southern neighbors, remains too technocratic, lacking the political support and financial muscle necessary to translate its lofty goals of democracy promotion and shared economic prosperity into reality. The same problems handicap the Western Mediterranean Forum, referred to as the 5+5 Dialogue. Since it was launched in Rome in 1990, the forum has taken an ad hoc approach, focusing mainly on short-term crisis and security management strategies.

As they stand, the current instruments in the toolbox of EU foreign policy are illequipped to address instability and insecurity in the Maghreb. To accomplish their missions, they need to be radically revamped on the technical side as well as empowered with political support. Such a process also has to take stock of the new realities affecting security in several countries of the Maghreb. This article purports to do just that. It examines the crisis of security and stability in the Maghreb, with a particular focus on the three countries lying on the southern rim of the Mediterranean (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).

The State of Affairs in the Maghreb

The great exuberance that the 2011 Arab uprisings provoked in the Maghreb faded as quickly as it came. The process of political change has been tortuous and punctuated by violence, squandered opportunities and dramatic setbacks. Morocco’s swagger about its unique process of tranquil democratization has turned to a limp. The kingdom is the most stable in North Africa but the pace of political change has been slow. In Algeria, Africa’s largest country, the big questions of stability loom large. The oligarchy that oversees the state hopes that its wheel of fortune does not burst, as the system remains imperiled by the unresolved succession question and low energy prices. To the east of Algeria, Libya is in tatters. The country’s chaos threatens to spread beyond the gates of its neighbors to reach Europe’s southern flank. To Algeria’s southwest, Mauritania stands surprisingly, if delicately, stable. This uneasy stability, however, will be difficult to maintain in a context of mounting internal stresses and external shocks. Mauritania, which ranks as the least populated and least developed country in the Maghreb, is confronted with an increasingly precarious political landscape, exacerbated by rising dissent, risks of ethnic confrontations, plummeting state revenues and the volatile geopolitics of the Sahel and Sahara regions [1]. Only in Tunisia is democratic hope still standing. But even there, the stubborn persistence of economic, social and regional disparities is having a dangerous effect on the country’s stability and democratic transition.

The woes of the Maghreb are amplified by the threat of violent extremism. The revival of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the introduction of Islamic State (IS) franchises have sent shivers throughout the region. The consequences for stability are most acutely felt in Tunisia where a wave of attacks by IS and AQIM affiliated groups has tested the country’s nascent democracy. Algeria also remains a prized target for the violent extremist organizations still operating in the country’s northeastern region of Kabylie and the areas bordering Libya, Mali and Tunisia. Morocco, which ranks amongst the safest countries in this troubled zone, is not immune from terrorist contamination. In recent years, the country’s security services have busted dozens of cells suspected of IS links. In Libya, the threat of militancy is the most confounding as it is ensconced in the country’s political, tribal and regional fractures. Complicating things even more for Libya and the region as a whole is the return of foreign fighters.

Exactly how this threatening environment in the Maghreb is unfolding is unclear. The prominence of transnational violent extremist and criminal networks should give urgent impetus to regional security cooperation. Unfortunately, the Western Sahara dispute remains a sore in the geopolitics of the region, with Morocco and Algeria battling each other for influence in the Maghreb and Western Africa. The most significant contribution that states with the biggest stakes in North Africa can make is to help the region’s two giants dial back their rivalry and revive their diplomatic ties. Europe in particular has a strong incentive to help Morocco and Algeria unlock their problems over the Western Sahara. Much of the continent’s southern flank is exposed to insecurities emanating from the Maghreb and the adjacent areas of West Africa and the Sahel. It is therefore critical for the EU and all concerned member states to strive to de-escalate regional power rivalries and mitigate the conditions that fuel the spread of violent extremism. So far, however, the main driver of EU attention has been counter-terrorism and migration control. Both are viewed as vital to the continent’s security, but their effectiveness necessitates addressing the causes that enable the rise of instabilities in the Maghreb.

Moroccan-style Gradualism

Five years after street protests nudged the king to change the constitution and allow an Islamist party (PJD) to form a coalition government, the Moroccan monarchy and the PJD remain uneasy companions. The royal palace maintains a strong grip on the political process even as the Islamists score notable electoral successes and try to expand their reach into the broader power structure. The PJD’s strong showing in both the September 2015 local elections —the party won some of the biggest cities including the capital Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir— and the October 2016 parliamentary vote where it increased its seats from 107 to 125, seems to vindicate the party’s gradualist approach. Gradualism is the eternal buzzword in Morocco. It is often a slow and frustrating experience, but all the important forces in the country sing its praises and recite its virtues. The monarchy brandishes it as proof of its reformist credentials. Democratic evolutionists dominating the PJD see it as a proven winner, especially that Islamists have been forced into retreat everywhere. This trend extends to the broader society where most Moroccans prefer the slow pace of change to the syndrome of stale authoritarianism or instability that ravages the region.

Where Morocco’s politics goes next is the subject of much speculation. The monarchy remains dominant and popular. King Mohammed VI exercises a great deal of power and enjoys system-based authority that also encompasses popular legitimacy. But the slight empowerment of democratic institutions brought about by constitutional reforms in July 2011 have created arenas through which political forces may challenge the preeminence of the Makhzen (literally: storehouse), the so-called deep state centering on the royal palace. In Morocco, such contestation plays fiercely in the electoral arena. The triumph of the PJD in the 2015 local elections deeply shook the system, unleashing a powerful counter-campaign to undermine the Islamists in the October 2016 legislative elections. In Morocco, electoral contests are not state-sponsored comedy, and hence are taken very seriously by the ruling elite of Morocco’s Makhzen. Notwithstanding the PJD’s patient and non-threatening formula for political change, the extended power apparatus that is firmly tied together by loyalty to the monarchy fears the Islamists’ encroachment into other institutions.

If the PJD expands its electoral footprint, the next territory of contention might become the legislature. Already, the important presence of Islamists in government and parliament has been an irritant to the country’s governance style, historically guided by unwritten codes and neo-traditional norms. The PJD’s hitherto stubborn persistence creates a dilemma for the Makhzen. The party is pragmatic, adaptive and accommodating. But tolerating its expanding reach generates high uncertainty and anxiety among the informal power holders who fear that if the PJD’s electoral successes proceed, they will upset the uneven balance of power between the formal institutions of democracy and the powerful parallel pillar of governance revolving around the monarchy. This explains the selective constriction of democratic spaces, aggressive cooptation of potential opposition and subtle propping of political allies. In the run-up to the October 2016 parliamentary election, the PJD and its junior collation ally, the Socialism and Progress Party (PPS), implicitly accused Makhzen networks of supporting the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), whose founder is now a close palace adviser[2]. The PJD justice minister also took to Facebook to complain that «The justice minister used to decide with the interior minister on all election matters but now, three weeks before the October 7 elections, weird and strange things are happening»[3].

These inherent tensions have so far been manageable. The country is stable, economically open and slowly and hesitatingly edging toward some semblance of limited democracy. The majority of Moroccans credit the monarchy for this state of affairs [4]. The fruits of this political tranquility and security manifest themselves in the transformation of the country into a major destination for foreign manufacturers. The kingdom’s welcoming business environment, tax advantages and good infrastructure have lured major European car makers. Morocco’s welcome mat also explains the boom in the aeronautics and aviation industry. Another industry that is helping create jobs and reshape the Moroccan economy is solar power. The country is building the world’s largest solar-thermal plant. These mega projects reflect Morocco’s ambitions to become a leading hub for renewable energy and manufacturing. The country also hopes to boost its own industrial capacity in these sectors, create local supply chains and help local firms thrive.

Accompanying this economic dynamism, which required significant investments in ports, roads, railways, air transportation, water supply, as well as a range of other measures to attract private-sector investors and train workers, has been a tighter control of the country’s account and budget deficits. The PJD-led government has smartly taken advantage of low fossil fuel prices to implement some painful public subsidy reforms, avoiding social unrest as the political opposition had warned.

But not everything is smooth in the kingdom. Major initiatives and projects that are ordained by the king move faster, while those that are not get bogged down in staggering bureaucracy, political squabbling and cost overruns [5]. Graft is reducing economic efficiency and distorting the allocation of resources. Corruption remains so widespread in the political, economic and judicial system that a 2015 corruption index compiled by Transparency International ranked Morocco 80 out of 168 countries. Ordinary Moroccans are well aware that the economic system is prone to rent-seeking and manipulation. At the 15th annual commemoration of his accession to the throne, the king himself addressed this problem head-on when he asked, “Where has Morocco’s wealth gone? And who is benefitting from it?!” For the first time, Mohammed VI acknowledged that the kingdom can no longer tolerate «a two-speed system in which the rich reap the benefits of growth, thus becoming richer, while the poor are excluded from the development process, thus getting poorer and suffering more deprivation» [6].

The trouble is that to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth requires good governance, independent courts, and a strong civil society. To be sure, some institutions are reformist and non-corrupt. Since his ascent to the throne in July 1999, the king has incontestably propelled new dynamism to the economy and investment patterns. The PJD’s tenure in government has been largely free of scandal. The party has sustained its political integrity and enacted some bold reforms that all previous governments shied away from, even as the great expectations for combating corruption faded into disappointments.

This uneasy coexistence of the monarchy and the PJD has fostered stability and economic progress. The trajectory of political change may remain deeply contradictory and inconclusive, but most Moroccans are loath to disrupt this state of affairs. After all, when compared to the authoritarian regression, political stasis and instability rampant in the region, the kingdom looks like an oasis of tranquility, and is a reliable ally of Europe and the United States. The stability of the status quo, however, should not lead to complacency. Unemployment is still stubbornly high, especially among the young and educated. Hundreds of disenchanted Moroccans are believed to have joined transnational violent extremist organizations in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Moroccan authorities are also on high alert over terror threats from extremist movements operating on the Sahel and West Africa. In the Moroccan administered Western Sahara, the Royal Armed Forces and Gendarmerie personnel have stepped up their monitoring of the border with Mauritania, recently targeting trafficking and smuggling networks in the Guerguerat region.

Algeria Adrift

In the midst of North Africa’s tumultuous political landscape, Algeria remains adrift but stable. As its neighbors wallow in instability, the country has managed to maintain order within its vast territory. Yet, underneath this stability lies a volatile mix of demographic stress, political alienation and economic mismanagement. The slow-motion denouement of the Bouteflika era adds to the list of economic and security worries already confronting the country. Algeria would be fortunate enough to avoid a disruptive political transition, as the internal headwinds and regional maelstrom that its leaders have to navigate are growing in peril.

For now, the country remains stranded in stasis. As the guessing game of the post- Bouteflika sweepstakes heats up, the network of decision-makers are actively working on staging a managed transition of power. In the process, the orchestrators intrigue and compete over turf and distribution of power, but the reality of common interests takes precedence over convivial rivalry. After all, the end goal of this game of necessity is survival. It should therefore not be surprising that the primal impulses of the deep state – that hidden group of senior military officers and their civilian allies that Algerians call ‘le pouvoir’ – is to double down on the same policies that have hitherto kept the ship of state afloat.

The contours of the emergent leadership will be no different from the groupings feeding off the system that has long characterized Algeria. Personalities and personnel change within the informal power networks that govern Algeria but the web of dependencies that ties networks and relationships together remains impervious to change. For example, during Bouteflika’s long reign in power, the presidency, the newly-enriched and business elite may have gained in political prominence at the expense of the intelligence and security services (DRS) but the system remains as indefinable as ever. The underlying forces that power the opaqueness of the system are the same ones that determine its evolutionary character. In other words, the DRS may have been dismantled in January 2016 and its once all-powerful head, General Mediène, whisked into retirement in September 2015, but the intelligence and security agencies still wield the same powerful influence within the apparatus of the state. In essence, the deep state adapts on its own terms, ruling behind a façade of formal institutions that don the trappings of electoral politics and pseudo-freedom of expression. This superficiality where the oligarchy that controls the state co-opts resistance exploits ideological fissures within society and patronizes political parties, namely the FLN and the Rassemblement National Démocratique (RND), will continue regardless of who takes over after Bouteflika exits the scene.

Therein in lies the problem of Algeria. The hidden mechanisms of power and the domestication of politics have widened the disconnect between the state and Algerian society. The irremediable ineffectiveness and corruption of state bureaucracy leave serious grievances to fester. At times of moribund political institutions and feeble civil society, only rioting seems to catalyze calls for public and government action.

As things stand, the state apparatus and its network-based system of governance will struggle to tame the socioeconomic storm clouds that threaten Algeria’s stability. Falling oil prices is a reminder of how dangerously dependent Algeria is on fossil fuels. The looming pivot to austerity conjures up the dark memories of the late 1980s when the government’s decision to reduce imports and cut spending and subsidies stoked civil unrest and the subsequent bloody civil war in the 1990s. So far, Algeria has used its backup of foreign-currency reserves to temper the effect of low prices. But that cushion is slated to erode as the reserves shrink from about $193bn in 2014 to $136bn in 2016.[7] Algeria’s dinar currency has also come under severe downward pressure, aggravating the country’s import bill and decreasing consumers’ purchasing power. To alleviate the financial pressures on its foreign currency reserves, the Algerian government cut spending by 9 percent in 2016 [8], suspended a number of infrastructure projects, and imposed restrictions on some imports such as cement, steel and certain cars [9]. Other fiscal measures to boost plummeting government revenues included a tax amnesty for Algerians with undeclared businesses.

These stop-gap measures are important to slow the downward slide in revenues but they remain only half-measures, unable to tackle the real obstacles to reforming an economy that still relies on hydrocarbons for two-thirds of government revenues and 95 percent of export earnings. During the great oil boom of the Bouteflika years, the regime squandered a golden opportunity to reduce reliance on energy exports and spur more inclusive models of growth and development.

The current economic crunch makes it harder to enact the necessary economic and social reforms for a post-oil economy. In late 2016, the government pledged to introduce a new «economic growth model» to boost the role of the private sector and prioritize investments in high-value added sectors, such as renewable energy, mining industry, agribusiness and oil and gas refinement [10]. In a bid to raise funds for the development of non-oil sectors, the country eyes a 30% expansion of energy oil output by 2020 [11]. This is an ambitious goal in light of the country’s difficult business environment and the endemic corruption in its hydrocarbon industry. Another complicating factor is the growing domestic consumption of oil and gas. Algerian leaders hope to rescue their conventional energy sources through harnessing the global shale gas revolution. After all, Algeria is estimated to have the third or fourth recoverable shale gas reserves in the world [12]. The problem, however, is that hydraulic fracturing requires the extraction of large quantities of water. Worse, most shale-rich deposits are based in Algeria’s remote south. This has put the state’s ambitions on a collision course with the inhabitants of the Sahara’s driest areas, who fear that fracking will destroy their livelihoods and water supplies.

In recent years, the south has seen an escalation in protests against social exclusion and high unemployment. Unfortunately, political disgruntlement and frustration with injustices is not always channeled into social mobilization and non-violent protests [13]. Some, especially the disaffected youth, gravitate towards the regional criminal and smuggling networks long established in Algeria’s south and its periphery. The growing extent and interconnectedness of these networks, increasingly enmeshed into the drug trade, car theft, illicit cigarette trafficking, weapons smuggling and counterfeiting, is a source of major concern for Algeria, which fears cross-pollination with extremist actors roaming the Algerian and Sahelian deserts.

This is a moment of high anxiety in Algeria. The economic problems are immense and the details to tackle them are still scarce. The barriers to creating a modern economy are not new. Bold promises of good governance, economic diversification and sustainable development have so far remained a mirage. And there is little reason to believe that a change of guard at the head of the presidency will deliver the efficient and accountable government Algeria needs to escape its political and economic predicament. The only question is whether this enduring political stasis exacerbates Algeria’s economic and unemployment woes. Any such deterioration risks plunging the country into a spiral of unrest and repression.

In a context of rising external insecurities, the best that the Algerian regime can hope for is that its politics of continuity staves off a rapid economic deterioration and an explosion of rising popular frustrations.

Tunisia in Flux

Five years after the revolution that ousted Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia remains in flux. The convergence of politics into a secular and Islamist pole is a salutary experience that can contribute to peace and stability. The maintenance of the elite political consensus between the secular Nidaa Touness and the Islamist Ennahda fits Tunisia’s need for unity in the face of multiple threats. Unfortunately, there is more than meets the eye in Tunisia’s transition to consensual politics. The country is still caught in a turbulent grey zone where strong authoritarian tendencies threaten to pull down the country’s tortuous march to democratic stability. Some developments are particularly worrisome. The fallout from the rise of terrorism is an unmistakable drift towards illiberalism. The grand designs to reform the security sector have been abandoned. The all-powerful ministry of interior, the backbone of old authoritarian rule, remains an unreconstructed bastion of secrecy and unaccountability. Other vestiges of restrictions and control are still firmly in place. Old laws and regulations continue to stand as linchpins of abuse of government power. The unreformed penal and military codes is a symbol of the ominous shadow of impunity that still hovers over fragile Tunisian democracy. Numerous other laws remain unreconstructed or lay dormant till resurrected. The 1978 state of emergency decree is a classic example of the extraordinary powers still assigned to the executive [14].

The recurrent invocation of the law seems to fit the pattern of the resurgence of the national security state. After three high-profile terror tragedies in 2015, the government is flexing its counter-terrorism muscles. The crackdown has led to blanket measures against populations suspected of radicalism. Police raids have returned in full bloom, “rogue” mosques have been closed, arbitrary travel restrictions on people under 35 have been imposed, and an “anti-terror” wall is being erected on Libya’s border. As the crackdown intensifies, fears abound that the terror-fighting strategy is short-termist, privileging tactics over strategy. Untargeted surveillance and disproportionate reach into neighborhoods considered as dangerous urban zones yield very little actionable intelligence, but they have pushed alienated citizens from the mainstream.

The institutions entrusted with checking the abuse of emergency power are either weak or intimidated into acquiescence. At a time of rising insecurities and terrorism, it is politically inexpedient for the parliamentary opposition to scrutinize the application of the laws and their conformity to the constitutional guarantees of legality and necessity. Being branded as terrorist sympathizers is such an existential threat to be greatly feared by the political opponents of the government.

Other examples of the government’s backtracking on reforms abound. The government has rowed back on promises to punish past economic crimes and other unlawful gains [15]. The proposed law on economic reconciliation is a barely masked attempt to undermine the work of the Truth and Dignity Commission and whitewash corrupt officials and business people. The bill proposes amnesty for corrupt politicians and businessmen who agree to pay a fine and return the public funds they embezzled. As a sweetener, the money would be invested in impoverished areas. Supporters of the bill, President Essebsi foremost among them, argue that the settlements would help unlock business investment and expedite the recovery of stolen assets. Opponents, however, see the bill as part of a broader Machiavellian drive to absolve the old establishment and reverse the country’s democratic gains.

It is too early to decide what shape the political order in Tunisia will take. There are some reasons for optimism as well as pessimism. Whatever the complexities, however, one thing is clear. The likely character of the political transition will be decided to a large extent by the ability or failure of the governing coalition to handle the multiple crises the country faces, the most daunting of which are terrorist threats and rising social tensions in the interior and border regions. Already, the failure to build a clear and coherent development policy that confronts the harms of economic exclusion and regional asymmetries has exacerbated youth resentments in Tunisia’s poorest neighborhoods and marginalized periphery. The January 2016 outbreak of social unrest in Kasserine, a desolate wasteland town in western Tunisia, is a reminder that the anger and despair that propelled the revolution from the hinterland are alive and well.

The stakes are high and the threats are real. Social inequality and regional asymmetries are undermining Tunisia’s democratic transition. They are also making it harder to secure the country. Thousands of disgruntled young Tunisians have joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Libya. This gravitational pull of militancy was clearly on show in the March 2016 terrorist attack on the south-eastern border town Ben Guerdane. This attack also illustrates the destabilizing aspects of the IS presence in Libya, as well its potential to tap into the pervasive discontent in Tunisia’s border regions.

The challenge for Tunisia is to understand this youth revolt. Blaming Islamic fundamentalism as the main driver of radicalism misdiagnoses the problem. So far, Tunisia’s current security framework against terrorism and other insecurities reflects the maxim that “every problem looks like a nail if the only tool you’ve got in your tool bag is a hammer.” Anytime there is a terrorist attack, the state cracks down on suspected radicals. Alternative approaches to combating terrorism are confined to the margins of public discourse and policy-making. A dispassionate assessment of Tunisia’s Jihadi problem, however, points more to sociological and political factors than it does to religious fundamentalism [16].


After a brief historical interlude of revolutionary fervor and democratic aspirations, the mood in the Maghreb has turned sour. The underlying causes of tensions and instability are complex and differ from country to country. But political stasis and economic distress is by far the region’s Achilles heel. Europe has a huge stake in helping its southern neighbors put their house in order, as the region’s problems tend to quickly become the continent’s woes. Morocco is the least complicated case, as the country remains politically stable and an attractive investment destination. But all is not bright in the kingdom. The country’s economic potential is held back by bureaucratic sloth and corruption. The dividends of economic progress have also not been shared equitably, leaving those left out in the cold frustrated. The big question for Morocco’s allies in Europe is how to incentivize more reforms that expand political freedoms and economic participation.

Europe’s task is much more complicated in Algeria. The country’s ruling elite is extremely sensitive to “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs. Political and economic engagement therefore requires a great deal of subtlety and delicacy [17]. The good news is that a growing chorus within the deep state seems to recognize that Algeria needs to reform. With dwindling reserves, the country needs European investments and technology to help it build a cushion against the mounting economic blows caused by low oil prices. Algeria desperately needs to modernize its economy and address the huge deficits in governance. So far, however, the country’s partners in Europe have focused mostly on how to prop up the Algerian gas industry to help the continent reduce its dependence on Russia. Another belief is that helping Algeria increase its gas production will stem a potential disastrous destabilization of the country. The focus on boosting investment in the gas industry is important, but it is ignoring the big elephant in the room: political stasis. What Algeria needs most is political openness and serious economic reforms that will help improve the business climate and lure foreign investors to areas beyond hydrocarbons.

Tunisia constitutes Europe’s major test for supporting democracy. The country deserves support and is eager for international aid. The EU should significantly increase its economic aid as well as mobilize international support and resources to ease the social situation in Tunisia’s interior and border regions. EU officials, in coordination with their American ally, should also put pressure on the Tunisian government to keep its infringements on civil liberties in check. Police abuse and torture instill in young people profound feelings of humiliation and bitterness towards state authority. They are also the best recruiting tools for terrorist groups.

Europe and the international community also have a role to play in beefing up the security architecture of the region. The most important contribution is to help stabilize Libya and resolve the Western Sahara dispute between Morocco and Algeria. The continuing chaos in Libya threatens to unleash more migration and terrorism on North Africa and Europe while the standoff between Algeria and Morocco torpedoes much needed regional economic integration and security cooperation. The 5+5 Dialogue, which brings together the five countries from the Maghreb Union and those from the northern shore (Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal), offers a good forum to explore the best ideas to face the challenges confronting the Western Mediterranean region. Most importantly, this dialogue has already been expanded to include issues that are critical to Maghreb integration and the development of the Mediterranean, such as education and research, the environment, energy, agriculture, food security and transportation. All these initiatives need to be translated into concrete action plans and technical support structures, as has already happened with the Transport Group of the Western Mediterranean (GTMO 5+5), supported by the CETMO (Centre for Transportation Studies for the Western Mediterranean) [18].

The new European Neighbourhood Policy, released in November 2015, also emphasizes the importance of EU engagement in boosting investment, trade and energy cooperation with southern neighboring governments. Whether the new ENP policy delivers on its promises depends on the level of political support the EU and its member states provide. So far, the ENP has never been given the necessary financial resources or conditionality incentives to have any leverage with the countries of the Maghreb.


[1] For a detailed analysis of the domains of insecurity that threaten Mauritania’s stability, see Boukhars Anouar (2015), “As Threats Mount, Can Mauritania’s Fragile Stability Hold?”, World Politics Review, 16 June, /articles/19084/as-threats-mount-can-mauritania-s-fragile-stability-hold

[2] El Yaakoubi Aziz (2016), «Moroccan king defends adviser over election comment in rare remarks», Reuters, 14 September,

[3] El Yaakoubi Aziz (2016), «Tensions within Moroccan government heat up as election nears», Reuters, 19 September,

[4] «The pluses and minuses of monarchy» (2016), The Economist, 9 June, africa/21700393-morocco-doing-well-its-king-still-needs-adapt-pluses-and-minuses

[5] “Factories in the sun» (2016), The Economist, 2 June, bring-carmaking-and-aerospace-industry-north-africa-factories-sun

[6] «New wealth rubs shoulders with old poverty in Morocco» (2015), Al Araby, 17 August, english/politics/2015/8/17/new-wealth-rubs-shoulders-with-old-poverty-in-morocco

[7] Ould Ahmed Hamid (2016), «Algeria dinar’s fall hits finances, but may bring reserves benefits», Reuters, 31 May,

[8] Ould Ahmed Hamid (2016), «Algeria to implement ‘new growth model’ to cope with oil price drop», Reuters, 27 July,

[9] Ould Khettab Djamila (2016), «Algeria economy: ‘The worst is to come'», Al Jazeera English Online, 11 May,

[10] Hamid Ould Ahmed (2016), «Algeria to implement ‘new growth model’ to cope with oil price drop», Reuters, 27 July,

[11] Brown Lincoln (2016), «Algeria plans to boost oil output by 30%», CNN online, 28 July, 2016/07/28/investing/algeria-oil-boost/

[12] Daragahi Borzou (2015), «Environmental movement blocks fracking in Algeria’s remote south», Financial Times, 9 March,

[13] Armstrong Hannah (2014), “The In Amenas Attack in the Context of Southern Algeria’s Growing Social Unrest”, CTC Sentinel, 12 February, unrest

[14] Marzouki Nadia (2015), “Tunisia’s Rotten Compromise”, Middle East Research and Information Project, 10 July,

[15] Saleh Heba (2015), “Egypt and Tunisia row back on corruption”, Financial Times, 13 September,

[16] Lamloum Olfa (2015), “Observations about Jihadists in Tunisia”, Assafir, 6 August,

[17] Joffé George (2015), “The Outlook for Algeria”, Instituto Affari Internationalali, files/iaiwp1538.pdf

[18] Busquets Gabriel, «Regional Integration in the Western Mediterranean: the AMU and 5+5», IEMED, observatori/arees-danalisi/arxius-adjunts/anuari/anuari-2014/Busquest_5-5_Dialogue_Arab- Maghreb_Union_IEMed_yearbook_2014_EN.pdf

[19] Furness Mark and Schäfer Isabel (2015), “The 2015 European Neighbourhood Policy Review: more realism, less ambition”, The Current Column, German Development Institute, November 26, 2015, /article/the-2015-european-neighbourhood-policy-review-more-realism-less-ambition/

Améliorons la coopération en matière de défense et lutte contre le terrorisme

Dahan Ahmed Mahmoud, Directeur Exécutif. Institut Mauritanien des Études Stratégiques

Parmi les problèmes que nos pays doivent impérativement résoudre, l’un des plus graves et des plus complexes est sans doute celui de la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent.

Après une brève tentative de définition du terrorisme, cette communication examinera les raisons de l’émergence du phénomène, aussi bien internes aux pays en voie de développement, qu’externes et liées à la mondialisation, puis je ferai quelques remarques sur les méthodes et les moyens appropriés pour renforcer la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent et comment améliorer notre coopération dans ce domaine.

Qu’est-ce que le terrorisme ?

Le terme « terrorisme », supposé signifier la première conséquence de l’extrémisme violent, est si galvaudé que son utilisation n’est plus de nature à apporter le consensus et la concorde.

Certains régimes appellent leurs opposants politiques « terroristes ». Certains sont appelés par les uns « combattants de la liberté » et par d’autres « terroristes » !

Les plus âgés d’entre nous se rappellent tous le refus des États-Unis d’octroyer, en 1988, un visa d’entrée à New York à feu Yasser Arafat, président palestinien – paix sur son âme – fiché alors comme terroriste en Israël et aux USA, ce qui contraignit l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies à se déplacer à Genève pour permettre à Yasser Arafat de prononcer son discours de paix.

L’ONU définit le terrorisme comme étant : « les actes qui mettent en danger d’innocentes vies humaines, menacent les libertés essentielles ou portent atteinte à la dignité humaine ».

En réalité, il faut considérer l’extrémisme violent comme une allergie affectant le fonctionnement de la société et du système mondial. Le philosophe français Jean Baudrillard remarquait après les attentats du World Trade Center que :

« Ce n’est donc pas un choc de civilisations ni de religions, et cela dépasse de loin l’Islam et l’Amérique, sur lesquels on tente de focaliser le conflit pour se donner l’illusion d’un affrontement visible et d’une solution de force. Il s’agit bien d’un antagonisme fondamental, mais qui désigne, à travers le spectre de l’Amérique (qui est peut-être l’épicentre, mais pas du tout l’incarnation de la mondialisation à elle seule) et à travers le spectre de l’islam (qui lui non plus n’est pas l’incarnation du terrorisme), la mondialisation triomphante aux prises avec elle-même. »

Personnellement, je préfère utiliser l’expression extrémisme violent popularisée par le sommet de la Maison Blanche de février 2015.

Causes de l’émergence du phénomène de l’extrémisme violent

Avant tout, il importe de noter que malgré l’existence de foyers de bandes terroristes armées, il est simpliste d’identifier les extrémistes violents avec des structures belligérantes traditionnelles qu’il suffirait de défaire militairement pour gagner la « guerre contre le terrorisme ». La défaite d’Al Qaeda en Afghanistan s’est traduite par sa multiplication à travers le monde. La mort de Zarqaoui n’a pas empêché l’apparition d’El Baghdadi et la disparition de ce dernier ne sonnera pas la fin du terrorisme.

Au Nigeria, l’élimination de Mohamed Youssouf, fondateur de Boko Haram, a conduit à la montée en puissance du beaucoup plus sanguinaire et plus brutal Aboubacar Chekaoua. Les idées, c’est bien connu, ne meurent pas avec la mort de leurs auteurs.

Il convient ainsi de noter que la problématique de la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent est très complexe et nécessite de notre part une démarche plus lucide et une attention plus soutenue.

La guerre contre le terrorisme nécessite une autre approche pour être gagnée et, pour cela, il faut d’abord commencer par la mise à nu des frustrations, des motivations religieuses et idéologiques, des facteurs psychologiques, sociaux et économiques qui sous-tendent la doctrine des groupes ou groupuscules extrémistes. Cette connaissance des causes constitue un pas important vers la compréhension des racines profondes de ce phénomène mondial rendu complexe par ses multiples dimensions et ses causes inextricables.

Je ne m’étendrai pas sur toutes les causes mais je citerai cependant que :

Dans Frustration and agression (Frustration et agression), John DOLLARD et ses collègues de l’université de Yale affirment que l’agression résulte toujours de la frustration.

Dans tous les cas, il importe d’affirmer que l’injustice – non redressée – peut générer, chez ses victimes, une réaction souvent violente et extrémiste.

C’est ce qui a pu être constaté en Iraq et en Syrie où les terroristes n’ont pu étendre leur domination sur de vastes régions, à des populations majoritairement arabes et sunnites, qu’après que ces populations aient vécu pendant de longues années les affres de l’injustice, sans que personne ne songeât à leur porter secours, ni même à écouter leurs complaintes.

Les psychologues affirment que l’agression est un « stimulant» qui provoque une réaction donnée, que chaque stimulant est lié à une réaction spécifique, et que les deux sont indissociables.

Ma conviction est, pour utiliser un terme paysan, qu’il y a des terreaux qui produisent inévitablement de l’extrémisme violent ; et la vraie manière d’éradiquer l’extrémisme violent, c’est d’identifier ces terreaux et de les rendre stériles.

Le terreau où pousse l’extrémisme violent est ce que nous appelons les causes de l’extrémisme violent.

Nous pouvons – pour des raisons méthodologiques – classer les causes de l’extrémisme violent en deux catégories majeures englobant beaucoup de sous-catégories :

Des causes inhérentes aux pays en voie de développement

Le sous-développement et ses corollaires, comme le sont les très forts taux de pauvreté et de chômage, la marginalisation, l’incapacité des États à fournir les besoins et services de base aux citoyens (ce qui occasionne des crises et des tensions sociales) : le remède est le développement.

La gabegie qui a lieu dans certains pays avec ses corolaires comme le sont la mauvaise distribution des richesses, la généralisation du népotisme, l’argent sale engendrant l’enrichissement flagrant d’un groupe réduit de citoyens et l’appauvrissement extrême de la majorité des citoyens dont certains peuvent se sentir poussés à la violence pour exprimer leur frustration et leur colère (extrémisme protestataire) : Le remède est la bonne gouvernance.

La mauvaise compréhension de la religion pour causes d’ignorance, de déficit cognitif quant aux méthodologies de compréhension et d’interprétation des textes (littéralité dans l’approche des textes, occultation des finalités et des contextes, qui survient par simple ignorance ou par la négligence de certains textes ou concepts régulateurs… ), l’adoption de références impropres pour la réception du savoir et pour l’édification de la pensée (tels les ouvrages écrits par des extrémistes anciens ou modernes) : Le remède n’est pas l’inquisition mais l’éducation.

Certains de nos partenaires du Nord s’aventurent à classer les différentes voies islamiques en bon Islam et mauvais Islam. Pour les musulmans, tout l’islam est bon et le terrorisme n’est pas l’islam.

La transformation des symboles du terrorisme en icônes religieuses du fait du vernis que leur confèrent les médias : Le remède est un traitement différent du phénomène par les médias.

Les causes liées au système international

L’absence d’une définition consensuelle du terrorisme : ce qui a donné à chaque État la latitude de développer son propre concept et de protéger ce qu’il considère comme non terroriste.

L’extrême injustice dont a été victime la nation arabe : de la colonisation aux drames qui ne cessent de gagner en force et en violence, passant par l’occupation de la Palestine et les souffrances continues des Palestiniens, Iraquiens, Syriens, Libyens, Yéménites et autres. Ce cumul de souffrances suscite chez les jeunes un sentiment de frustration et d’humiliation face à des politiques, attribuées souvent à l’Occident, qui sont perçues comme déséquilibrées et toujours en faveur des adversaires des Arabes. Alain Gresh du Monde diplomatique fait la constatation suivante : « On ne mesure pas à quel point les guerres menées par les Occidentaux dans le monde musulman nourrissent une haine qui dépasse très largement les cercles extrémistes. Les centaines de milliers de morts, les millions de réfugiés, les tortures d’Abou Ghraib, les “dommages collatéraux”, les tirs de drones — tous concentrés sur les pays musulmans — alimentent la propagande de l’OEI dénonçant une guerre des “croisés” contre l’islam et une impunité aussi injuste qu’unilatérale. »

La colère arabe sur la question palestinienne limite la puissance et la profondeur de nos relations avec des gouvernements et des peuples de cette zone et affaiblit la légitimité des régimes modérés dans le monde arabe. Pendant ce temps, Al-Qaeda et d’autres groupes militants exploitent la colère pour mobiliser.

L’incapacité du Conseil de sécurité à assurer la justice au niveau international ; la contradiction criante entre ce que stipulent les conventions de l’ONU et ce qui se passe dans le monde arabe.

La place de plus en plus importante accordée, depuis la chute de l’Union soviétique et l’émergence d’un pôle unique, à des organisations terroristes internationales par les médias et certains analystes et hommes politiques cherchant à accréditer l’idée du « danger vert » proposée dès la chute du Mur par Samuel Huntington.

L’existence de milieux servant, en raison des tensions qui règnent dans certains pays, d’abri aux mouvements terroristes leur permettant d’établir des bases arrière ; comme peut l’être le sud libyen depuis la chute de Mouammar Kadhafi.

L’amplification du phénomène de l’islamophobie, en particulier en Europe et ce que cela engendre comme moqueries à l’égard de l’islam et du Prophète – Paix et Salut sur Lui. Les avancées scientifiques et techniques en matière de réseaux de communication, qui ont facilité la propagation des idées extrémistes, le recrutement des jeunes et enseigner les méthodes pour fabriquer des armes et commettre des attentats.

Ce sont là quelques idées sur les fertilisants du terreau où pousse l’extrémisme violent, fertilisants produits au Nord et au Sud.

Que faire pour lutter contre l’extrémisme violent ?

Il convient d’abord de faire les constatations suivantes :

1. Concernant les extrémistes violents

a. Ils n’ont aucun projet de société et ne proposent rien concernant la sécurité, l’économie, l’éducation ou la santé ! Leur unique programme est la guerre et un tel programme ne peut pas obtenir une adhésion continue de la population.

b. Très peu d’entre eux ont bénéficié d’une bonne formation militaire ; mais ce qui les rend très dangereux c’est surtout leur ignorance et leur engagement qui va jusqu’au sacrifice de leur vie.

2. Concernant les communautés qui constituent un milieu générateur et/ou incubateur d’extrémisme violent :

a. Comme tous les peuples, ils aspirent à la sécurité, au développement, à l’éducation, à la santé et aux loisirs.

b. Les communautés qui constituent un milieu générateur et/ou incubateur sont des communautés qui se sentent agressées et injustement traitées en particulier visà- vis de leurs adversaires traditionnels qui paraissent choyés et adulés par la communauté internationale.

3. Concernant la communauté internationale

a. Les armes sont fabriquées au Nord où il n’y a plus de conflits armés et utilisés au Sud où les foyers de tensions pullulent ;

b. La révolution des communications fait que les informations destinées à la consommation intérieure d’un pays soient diffusées immédiatement sur l’ensemble de la planète. Des oxymores comme « guerre propre », « bombes intelligentes », « rien contre les Palestiniens, les Iraquiens, les Libyens, les musulmans, mais nous faisons la guerre au diabolisé de service : Hamas, Saddam Hussein, Kadhafi » ont un effet fertilisant dans les communautés où germe l’extrémisme violent, car au même moment, les intéressés assistent à la démolition de leurs maisons, des infrastructures vitales de leurs pays et subissent des traitements dégradants.

c.Après ces constatations il convient de noter que la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent, pour être efficace, doit se développer de trois manières et sur plusieurs fronts.

Le traitement

Qui consiste à s’occuper des terroristes en activité, et nos partenaires occidentaux sont, de loin, les plus avancés dans ce domaine comme l’a prouvé, entre autre, l’intervention française au Mali. Le traitement doit se faire par :

• Le renseignement qui est l’élément le plus important pour contrer les extrémistes violents et qui doit :

– Être mutualisé entre tous les services du pays.

– Être partagé avec les partenaires internationaux.

– S’appuyer sur les méthodes modernes (surveillance de l’Internet, surveillance par satellites et aérienne) sans négliger les méthodes traditionnelles d’écoutes et d’hommes de terrain.

• Les actions militaires – aériennes et au sol, sont indispensables, pour réduire des foyers terroristes bien identifiés par des renseignements vérifiés.

• L’étouffement des foyers d’extrémistes violents connus en les privant de financement, d’armement et de moyens de transport, mais pas de nourriture car cela affecte surtout les civiles.

Il est, cependant, important de noter que quelqu’un qui est prêt à se faire exploser pour tuer des gens ne peut être dissuadé ni par la carotte ni par le bâton et qu’il faut savoir démonter le processus extrême qui l’a conduit à cette situation.

Le suivi

Les extrémistes violents capturés et mis en prison doivent faire l’objet d’une attention particulière. C’est une occasion unique de dialoguer avec eux pour les remettre sur le droit chemin ; des traitements type Guantanamo ou Abu Ghreib ne font que générer d’autres extrémistes.

Beaucoup de prisonniers extrémistes sont récupérables et peuvent même être réutilisés dans la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent, en tout cas, c’est notre expérience en Mauritanie.

Le processus préventif

La troisième manière et la plus importante est la prévention qui vise à empêcher l’apparition de l’extrémisme violent. Elle ne se fait pas dans l’urgence, mais elle doit se faire dans la durée.

La prévention de l’extrémisme violent se fait en rendant stérile le terreau où il pousse pour cela il convient de :

• Sur le plan interne :

– Lutter contre la pauvreté.

– Améliorer l’éducation.

– Pratiquer la bonne gouvernance.

– Rapprocher l’administration des citoyens.

– Défendre les libertés.

• Sur le plan international :

Nos partenaires européens pourraient oeuvrer pour essayer de rationaliser les mécanismes de prise de décision en matière de lutte contre l’extrémisme violent tant à leur niveau qu’au niveau de la communauté internationale. Pour cela, il faudrait :

– Diminuer l’influence des lobbies militaro-économiques – dont les affaires ne fleurissent qu’en période de conflit – sur les décisions concernant la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent.

– Réduire la crédibilité accordée aux renseignements issus des sources ayant une inimitié connue envers l’islam (en particulier sunnite) et les Arabes ; certaines de ces sources ne cherchent qu’à réaliser des objectifs sectaires n’ayant rien à avoir avec la lutte contre l’extrémisme violent.

– S’appuyer sur l’expertise locale : cette démarche permettra de corriger l’appréciation du phénomène terroriste en intégrant des experts possédant des données locales, sociales, culturelles, politiques, économiques etc. plus proches des réalités des groupes terroristes. Elle permettra de profiter de méthodes qui ont été utilisées localement avec de bons résultats comme l’approche préventive de la Mauritanie ; cela, tout en continuant à dépêcher des experts occidentaux pour entraîner et aider à optimiser les moyens et les renseignements.

– Travailler avec les grands médias pour :

• Diminuer l’islamophobie.

• Diminuer l’importance accordée aux symboles de l’extrémisme (les terroristes sont friands de publicité et leur en faire est leur donner le pas sur les modérés de leurs groupes et leur fournir la notoriété pour recruter sur la toile).

– Éviter de souffler sur les braises, soit en créant de nouveaux conflits, soit en amplifiant des conflits existants, en particulier ethniques ou religieux.

– Éviter d’imposer certaines valeurs de la société occidentale comme universelles (on sent des tentatives comme pour formater tout avec un logiciel occidental antimusulman et antiarabe).

En conclusion

L’idée centrale à laquelle je veux arriver est que la meilleure façon de lutter contre l’extrémisme violent est la prévention qui se fait en travaillant à rendre stérile le terreau où il pousse tout en continuant à maintenir la pression sur les terroristes, à les combattre là où ils se manifestent et à essayer de récupérer ceux qui se repentissent. C’est ce que nous essayons de faire en Mauritanie avec notre méthode basée sur la prévention, le traitement et le suivi.

Pour vaincre le terrorisme, il est illusoire de se baser sur les seuls moyens de coercition. Ce sera seulement en orientant cette lutte vers les voies et les moyens à même de rendre stérile le terreau servant d’incubateur à l’extrémisme violent que nous le vaincrons. Joseph Nye, auteur de référence dans l’étude des Relations internationales et ancien sous-secrétaire américain à la Défense, affirmait dans son ouvrage Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, que la force dure n’était plus le meilleur moyen pour réussir la politique extérieure.

Quant à Alain Gresh, il écrivait : « L’oubli du lien entre la politique étrangère menée dans le monde arabe et le développement du djihadisme amène une cécité qui explique quinze ans d’échec de la “guerre contre le terrorisme”. Cette omission paralyse la réflexion stratégique et entraîne la France dans un engrenage infernal dont elle ne peut que payer le prix fort ».

L’excellence suprême, disait Tzen tzu, ne consiste pas à gagner toutes les batailles mais elle consiste à anéantir la résistance de l’ennemi sans combattre.

Economic and Development Challenges

Western Mediterranean Countries facing Common Challenges in Trade and Investments

Rym Ayadi, President of the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA)

Emanuele Sessa, Junior economist at the EMEA


The increasing political instability and persisting economic crisis experienced on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea is bringing renewed scepticism and increasing mistrust between partner countries. On the northern shore, EU member states are grappling with the aftermath of the euro crisis that started in 2011, which had particularly severe implications for three out of five economies of the 5+5 countries. Italy, Spain and Portugal are battling with a sluggish recovery and persistently high unemployment rates and facing the consistent challenge of managing the severe repercussions of the crisis on some of their leading economic sectors, such as banking in Italy or real estate in Spain. These economic difficulties eventually gave rise to the upsurge of inward-looking populist claims and nationalist movements experienced today, substantially fuelled by the currently ongoing refugee “crisis” and the failure to find a satisfactory communitarian response to the management of migrant flows. On the southern shore, the MENA countries witnessed the greatest social and political transformations of their recent history, with both the aspirations for democracy of the Arab youth and the rise of Muslim extremism bursting out in a series of uprisings destabilising the region’s polities, economies and societies. These dynamics led to the exacerbation of tensions in the region and contributed to the persistence of long-lasting crises, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and new conflicts in Syria and in Libya structurally undermining trust between partner countries, not only in the region but also beyond. The situation in the 5+5 countries such as Libya, where civil uprisings unfolded into an international war theatre and chronic political instability, or France, which is suffering from recurrent terrorist threats, attest how these unfortunate developments can worsen regional integration and cooperation prospects in many ways.

To understand the situation in the region these developments should be considered in light of the challenges raised by global mega-trends. Globalisation is enhancing connectedness and interdependence between Mediterranean countries but at the same time favouring the emergence of new dividing lines and related clashes, bearing considerable political challenges along with important economic opportunities. Globalisation entails the partial hollowing out of nation states both upward and downward, as attested by countries progressively integrating in supranational institutions, such as the European Union (EU) or the Maghreb Arab Union (MAU) or somewhat disintegrating under the pressure of subnational secessionist movements or in the worst cases armed militias.

This is a simplified picture of a very complex reality of intermeshed integration and disintegration dynamics underlining the importance of creating a new momentum for regional integration and cooperation, in which the 5+5 countries could have a leading role. The 5+5 format comprises countries with a positive track record of political and economic cooperation between shores built on political, economic and social ties rooted in the recent history of the region. The 5+5 countries come together in more or less advanced forms of North-North and South-South integration under the EU and the MAU, although the latter is suffering from a prolonged stagnation as a result of political and economic blockages between partner countries. In principle, the integration of countries in supranational unions could translate in a more balanced and even a renewed approach to dialogue and cooperation between shores as compared to the Mediterranean region as a whole, where the EU is in the position to favour bilateral formats of cooperation with individual countries of a fragmented MENA region.

In order to become a mechanism of regional integration and cooperation, the 5+5 countries must find together effective collaborative solutions to address a series of economic and development challenges resulting in sluggish recovery, little political margin for manoeuvre and the massive challenges confronting these countries.

This paper looks into the integration patterns between the 5+5 countries by assessing the most recent evolutions of investment, trade and employment in the region to highlight such challenges and formulates recommendations to pave the way for dialogue and cooperation conducive to tangible results on which to build a new momentum for integration in the region.

Patterns of Economic Integration in the 5+5 Countries

In what follows, a brief overview of FDI, trade and employment patterns is presented and assessed.

FDI stock and outflow from the EU to the rest of the world have been rather variable in the last decade. FDI outflows experienced a timid recovery following the downturn in 2008-2010 in concomitance with global financial and euro crises but fell sharply again in 2014 due to large disinvestments in traditional partner countries. FDI stock amounted to an average €112 billion in 2014 as compared to €564 billion in 2007. MENA countries experienced the same trend although with much smaller numbers, exception given for Morocco where the stock of FDI reached $444 million in 2014 after averaging $438 million in the period comprised between 2007 and 2014.

Overall, the MENA region is not attracting large amounts of FDI as compared to other regions of the world, such as Asia, which attracts an average of $400 billion per year. According to the OECD, the trend of FDI attracted by MENA decreased from $64 billion in 2010 to $45 billion in 2013, whereas for countries such as Libya, Tunisia or Morocco the average amounts only range between 1 and 2 billion dollars per year. These trends are decreasing for Tunisia and Libya and increasing for Morocco, which is benefitting from relative political stability as compared to neighbours experiencing important political and social transformations following the turmoil of the so-called Arab Spring.

France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain have been decreasing their FDI overall but in 2012 some signs of recovery were registered as far as investments directed towards their Maghreb counterparts are concerned.

In turn, FDI outflows from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to their European counterparts, although traditionally very low, did not show any sign of recovery and in some cases even decreased. This trend is particularly strong in the case of Libya and Mauritania, which experienced important decreases in both inflows and outflows of FDI from their European counterparts in the same period.

The EU-28’s position in terms of exports and imports to the rest of the world throughout the period has been rather stable between 2 and 2.5 trillion dollars, with Germany accounting for the lion’s share and France, Italy, Portugal and Spain managing to maintain their relative shares. From 2012, Germany and Italy register a trade surplus while other countries accrued a trade deficit until 2011. MENA countries experienced divergent paths according to the nature of their economy, with resource-rich countries registering a trade surplus throughout the period (Algeria and Libya) and the others suffering a trade deficit until recently (Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia).

The 5+5 countries are experiencing diametrically opposed trends as far as export and import performance is concerned. France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain exports to the rest of the world continuously increased in the last decade with only a slump during the years of the global financial and economic crisis in 2009-2010. Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia exports to the rest of the world increased before the global financial and economic crisis before experiencing a sharp fall and a steady decrease following a timid recovery in 2010-2011. This decrease is at least partly due to the negative consequences on the economy of the Arab Spring and the resulting widespread instability and related uncertainty.

In turn, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain imports from the rest of the world increased before the crisis and then stabilised, while Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia imports increased continuously throughout the period with limited effects of the economic crisis and political turmoil on the figures.

As far as relations between the 5+5 countries are concerned, the trade balance mirrors the characteristics of the MAU economies resulting in the EU registering a substantial deficit with resource-rich Algeria and Libya and a more or less substantial surplus with Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. EU trade deficit with Algeria and Libya increased steadily before the global economic crisis and regional political turmoil and oscillated from year to year thereafter, conditioned by the chronic instability in Libya and some political blockages with Algeria. The EU trade surplus with Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia slightly increased over the period, particularly in the case of Morocco having experienced a steady increase of its trade deficit with the EU from an average of $2 billion in 2003 to almost $10 billion in 2013.

The EU signed bilateral Association Agreements under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with Tunisia in 1995, with Morocco in 2000 and with Algeria in 2002, while Libya and Mauritania remained outside most of the structures of the ENP. The Association Agreements aim at enhancing political association and economic integration and most provisions are laid down to set the ground for trade liberalisation. These provisions had a series of implications on FDI and trade between EU and MAU countries. On the one hand, EU support for measures aimed at improving market conditions and regulations in Morocco and Tunisia might have favoured the increase of FDI inflows. On the other hand, although there is a lack of ex-post evaluations on the effects of trade agreements on the Moroccan and Tunisian economies, evidence suggests that these agreements might have favoured the increase of the two countries’ trade deficit. In the framework of these agreements, negotiations for the establishment of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) are currently ongoing with Morocco and Tunisia, although clouded by rising concerns about the potential adverse effects of trade imbalances between the EU as the world’s largest single market and individual MAU economies with serious economic difficulties.

These difficulties include above all rising inequalities and chronic unemployment. Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia experienced persistently high unemployment rates averaging 11% in the period comprised between 2005 and 2015, with peaks around 18% in Libya and Tunisia in the years following the political turmoil of the Arab Spring.

Unemployment rates for the youth and more particularly young females in the region remained substantially higher throughout the whole period, averaging 20% in Algeria and Morocco and 30% in Tunisia. In the latter country, youth unemployment rates soared by over 40% in 2011 and 2012 because of the uprising having led to the fall of the Ben Ali regime and the transition to democracy. Unemployment rates for young females did not show any notable sign of decrease over the period, stalling between 30% and 40% depending on the country or even slightly increasing since the Arab Spring in some cases.

In the EU, the situation is not much rosier with unemployment rates increasing from below 10% in 2005 up to 25% in Spain, 15% in Portugal and 13% in Italy in 2015. In all countries under consideration except for Malta, the rates increased sharply and steadily from the onset of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008. The situation is particularly striking in Spain and Italy, where unemployment rates were still on the rise in 2014 with no sign of stabilisation or timid recovery, as compared to France or Portugal.

In the case of EU countries also, youth and female unemployment are much higher and experienced a steady increase in the years following the economic crisis, with some timid signs of recovery registered only in 2014. Youth unemployment rates exceeded 50% in Spain and peaked at over 40% in Italy and Portugal, while they remained relatively stable throughout the whole period in France and Malta at a much lower level. A notable difference between EU and MAU countries is that female unemployment rates are not substantially different from male rates.

These figures show that the so-called jobless growth phenomenon, that is, output growth not accompanied by substantial employment creation, is a reality in the 5+5 countries independently of the shore considered and must be addressed as a common challenge in political dialogue.

Rôle des infrastructures de transport dans l’intégration économique et commerciale du Maghreb

Alberto Palacios Cobeta, Directeur technique du CETMO


Le présent article a pour objectif principal de donner une vision d’ensemble de la coopération dans le secteur des transports et de montrer son rôle dans la facilitation de l’intégration économique et commerciale dans le cadre de la collaboration entre les pays du Dialogue 5+5.

Cet article se compose d’une première partie qui présente les acteurs fondamentaux de la coopération en matière de transport et d’une deuxième partie qui expose les lignes directrices de cette coopération. Il est à noter que les actions servant à encourager l’intégration s’appuient sur un même principe de base : le secteur du transport, qui comprend les infrastructures comme les services, doit se préparer pour relever le défi de l’intégration régionale de la Méditerranée Occidentale et favoriser son fonctionnement comme entité économique et sociale compétitive à l’échelle économique mondiale. De ce point de vue, les lignes directrices envisagées reflètent un horizon temporel à court terme mais aussi à moyen et long terme.

Acteurs fondamentaux

Le Dialogue 5+5 a été lancé comme forum sous-régional informel en 1990, à l’occasion d’une rencontre de ministres des Affaires étrangères tenue à Rome. Son objectif principal était de créer un cadre de coopération entre les pays européens et les pays de l’Union du Maghreb arabe. Les pays engagés dans ce processus sont l’Algérie, l’Espagne, la France, l’Italie, la Libye, Malte, le Maroc, la Mauritanie, le Portugal et la Tunisie.

En 2012, la Déclaration de Malte a souligné l’importance du Dialogue 5+5 et a plaidé pour son renforcement car, au vu des caractéristiques et dimensions de la région 5+5, il devenait indispensable que les pays s’unissent et travaillent ensemble pour faire entendre leur voix ou avoir un minimum de visibilité à l’échelle mondiale. La Déclaration a ainsi montré l’importance de travailler comme plateforme régionale en profitant des synergies qui s’établissent entre pays membres sans renoncer aux intérêts nationaux, et de poursuivre des buts régionaux communs grâce à un alignement des stratégies nationales, afin d’avoir une région plus forte et mieux intégrée.

De par sa nature, le Dialogue 5+5 a été appliqué à différents contenus ministériels et a stimulé l’augmentation du nombre de domaines thématiques de coopération.

Le GTMO 5+5

Dans le domaine des transports, cette coopération s’est traduite par la création du Groupe des ministres du transport de la Méditerranée Occidentale en 1995. Le GTMO a été constitué à Paris ; en faisaient partie l’Algérie, l’Espagne, la France, l’Italie, le Maroc, le Portugal et la Tunisie. Lors de sa IVe conférence ministérielle, tenue à Tunis en 2007, le groupe s’est élargi au ministère en charge des transports de la Libye, de Malte et de la Mauritanie et a adopté un format 5+5 qu’il possède actuellement. Sa mission consiste à faire avancer la coopération pour le développement du transport en Méditerranée Occidentale et contribuer au partenariat euro-méditerranéen dans ce domaine. Bien que la Libye et la Mauritanie aient des caractéristiques propres en matière de transport, qui les distinguent des autres pays du Maghreb, celles-ci sont considérées comme des opportunités pour stimuler leur développement.

Les ministres du GTMO 5+5 ont adopté, lors de la conférence de Tunis en 2007 un protocole de coopération qui en règle le fonctionnement, fixe les objectifs et domaines prioritaires de travail et établit les structures qui facilitent le fonctionnement du groupe.

Les domaines de coopération définis dans le protocole :

– La définition et le développement d’un réseau multimodal de transport en Méditerranée Occidentale, qui met l’accent sur l’interconnexion avec les réseaux transeuropéens et avec les réseaux des pays voisins.

– La recherche de modes de financement avantageux des infrastructures dans la région auprès de partenaires financiers.

– La facilitation des échanges et des transports dans la région, en mettant l’accent sur l’ensemble de la chaîne de transport.

– La contribution à la mise en oeuvre des recommandations adoptées lors des conférences ministérielles euro-méditerranéennes sur les transports.

– La mise à niveau des entreprises impliquées dans le transport, dans la perspective de la mise en place de la zone euro-méditerranéenne de libre-échange.

– La mise en place d’une base de données et de méthodes permettant l’identification régulière des priorités dans la région, à partir des travaux déjà existants réalisés par le CETMO.

– Le développement de la recherche en matière de transports dans la région, en impliquant les réseaux universitaires euro-méditerranéens, et encourageant la participation des pays maghrébins aux programmes communautaires de recherche.

– Le renforcement de la sécurité et sûreté des transports dans la région.

Un des points forts de ce groupe de coopération est d’avoir fixé un calendrier de rencontres bisannuelles au cours desquelles les ministres accordent, adoptent et ratifient conjointement les conclusions de la rencontre.

Ces conclusions – en lien direct avec les domaines de coopération du GTMO 5+5 – représentent les orientations qui guideront l’établissement du programme de travail de la période suivante. Le groupe formé par les experts du GTMO 5+5 (hauts fonctionnaires des ministères de transport de la région) et le Secrétariat technique du GTMO 5+5, définit, exécute et évalue le programme de travail pour les périodes entre conférence de ministres. Ce mode de fonctionnement permet d’adapter la coopération aux besoins qui sont exprimés où détectés au fil de la période.

Le deuxième point fort du groupe est l’existence d’une structure neutre qui joue le rôle de Secrétariat technique du GTMO 5+5. Le CETMO exerce cette fonction depuis la constitution du groupe.

Le Centre d’études des transports pour la Méditerranée Occidentale (CETMO)

Le Centre d’étude des transports pour la Méditerranée Occidentale (CETMO) a été créé en 1985 sur décision des pays de la région méditerranéenne et sur l’initiative du gouvernement espagnol en collaboration avec le gouvernement autonome catalan (Generalitat de Catalunya). La création du centre répondait aux recommandations formulées lors de la conférence des ministres du transport des pays méditerranéens tenue en Grèce, à Thessalonique, sous le haut patronage des Nations unies.

La vocation principale du CETMO est la coopération pour l’amélioration des conditions de transport entre les pays du sud de l’Europe et ceux du Maghreb, sous forme d’études sur les infrastructures, les flux de marchandises et de voyageurs dans la Méditerranée Occidentale.

La force du centre vient de sa capacité à assumer le rôle mobilisateur des pays de la région par rapport à leur coopération en transport, capacité qui s’explique par les raisons suivantes : la confiance dont bénéficie le centre aux yeux des pays de la rive sud et l’ensemble des savoirs et savoir-faire qu’il a accumulés au fil du temps. Afin de renforcer ces deux aspects fondamentaux, le CETMO accorde une attention particulière et systématique à la gestion des connaissances (par le biais, entre autres, de bases de données, de modélisation de flux, d’un système d’information géographique mais aussi l’élaboration d’études et rapports) et travaille en étroite collaboration avec les acteurs de la région (ministères et autres groupes impliqués dans la coopération).

Autres acteurs

À cet égard, encourager un partenariat entre les différentes entités régionales qui travaillent dans le cadre de la coopération en transport est depuis toujours une des priorités du GTMO 5+5 et du CETMO. Comme cela apparaît dans la déclaration du Ier Forum MedThink : une coopération et une coordination renforcées du Dialogue 5+5 avec les partenaires multilatéraux régionaux et sous-régionaux existants, mais aussi avec les institutions financières multilatérales opérant dans la région sont vitales pour continuer de renforcer les complémentarités et optimiser les ressources, programmes et politiques en place.

Les activités définies dans le programme de travail du GTMO 5+5 pour établir une coopération institutionnelle renforcée sont les suivantes :

– Participation au Forum Euromed Transports et à ses groupes de travail.

– Suivi des initiatives de l’UpM et de son Secrétariat.

– Coordination avec la Commission européenne, l’Union du Maghreb arabe et la Banque européenne d’investissement.

Dans le cadre du partenariat euro-méditerranéen, le Secrétariat du GTMO 5+5 a assuré le suivi des activités du Forum euro-méditerranéen des transports et de ses groupes de travail afin de défendre les intérêts de la Méditerranée Occidentale.

Au cours des dernières années, la collaboration avec l’UpM est devenue une réalité. Dès la création de son Secrétariat à Barcelone, le Secrétariat technique du GTMO 5+5 a été en contact direct avec lui. Le GTMO 5+5 a considéré que la présentation des projets prioritaires du groupe au Secrétariat de l’UpM, en vue de leur labellisation comme projet UpM et de leur promotion devant les organismes financiers, revêtait un intérêt stratégique. Le résultat de cette coopération entre l’UpM et le GTMO 5+5 a été la labellisation d’un premier projet comme « projet UpM » : Achèvement de la partie centrale de l’axe autoroutier transmaghrébin.

D’autre part, la collaboration entre le GTMO 5+5 et l’UMA s’appuie sur deux mémorandums d’entente signés par la présidence tunisienne pour le premier et le Secrétariat technique pour le deuxième.

Pour ce qui est de la collaboration avec la BEI, celle-ci se matérialise à travers la participation du CETMO au projet de création d’un réseau de plateformes logistiques en Méditerranée, projet coordonné par la BEI et intitulé Logismed (labélisé aussi par l’UpM).

Cependant, une participation accrue et plus efficace de la société civile au Dialogue 5+5 est un préalable pour un espace plus authentique de copropriété au sein du partenariat. Dans le cas de la coopération en transport, cette constatation a également été faite et ce sera une des lignes principales pour les futures actions à entreprendre.

La situation des flux entre les pays

Le total des échanges commerciaux des pays [1] de la Méditerranée Occidentale s’est élevé, en 2013, à 2 441 milliards d’euros (1 735 millions de tonnes), dont environ 10 % correspondent aux pays maghrébins (en volume, ce pourcentage atteint presque 19 %). Ces chiffres montrent l’inégalité évidente des différents espaces économiques.

Si nous nous concentrons uniquement sur le commerce extérieur entre les pays du GTMO 5+5 [2] (qui représente près de 214 millions de tonnes) et sur sa désagrégation en sous-régions, apparaîtra principalement le faible pourcentage du commerce intermaghrébins (moins de 3 %), malgré la hausse de ces dernières années.

Il a été constaté par M. Larabi que la faiblesse actuelle de la part relative des échanges intramaghrébins (entre 1,2 % et 2 %) persistera tant qu’un ensemble de facteurs institutionnels et politiques continueront d’entraver les échanges et que la complémentarité potentielle des économies maghrébines n’est pas progressivement construite. Une intégration économique approfondie peut avoir, à plus ou moins long terme, un impact substantiel sur la croissance économique régionale. Émerge ainsi, avec une importance grandissante, la nécessité d’améliorer l’interconnexion des marchés par la simplification des règles d’origine, la facilitation du commerce, la convergence des réglementations et des instruments de régulation économique. De plus, le gain issu de l’intégration sera plus visible et bénéfique si le progrès vers un marché commun intégré est soutenu par de grands projets d’infrastructures fédérateurs (transport, eau, énergie…) et des projets communs entre entreprises privées maghrébines.

Par conséquent, la préparation et l’ouverture vers l’intégration économique de la région sont et continueront d’être une des conditions de la coopération en transport, de façon que ce secteur et ses infrastructures ne constituent pas un obstacle au travail en commun des économies et des entreprises des pays du 5+5. De fait, le transport et ses usagers sont à la fois demandeurs et bénéficiaires de cette intégration.

Les grandes lignes d’action de la coopération en transport du Dialogue 5+5

La planification

La planification des infrastructures de transport est traditionnellement une des activités principales du CETMO, comme Secrétariat technique du GTMO 5+5. Lors la VIIIe conférence ministérielle du GTMO 5+5, en octobre 2014, les ministres du groupe ont adopté le réseau multimodal de transport du GTMO 5+5. Ce réseau est une réflexion du CETMO visant à définir un réseau de transport objectif qui contribue à la planification et à la réflexion sur l’existence d’infrastructures prioritaires pour la région. Il s’agit d’un exercice fiable et rigoureux qui a reçu l’approbation des ministres mais a bénéficié également de la collaboration d’experts nationaux des différents pays pour assurer la qualité des informations sur lesquelles se base le réseau.

La multimodalité est essentielle dans cette planification, comme notion clé qui permet une plus grande efficacité des flux de passagers et de marchandises et, en conséquence, une amélioration de la compétitivité de la région. C’est la raison pour laquelle le réseau multimodal du GTMO 5+5 englobe des infrastructures des différents modes de transport (routier, ferroviaires, portuaires et aéroportuaires). À l’heure actuelle, le CETMO est en train de mettre à jour ses bases de données sur les infrastructures du réseau en y ajoutant aussi les plateformes logistiques. Ce dernier aspect est important en raison d’une part, du poids qu’a aujourd’hui le secteur logistique au Maghreb et d’autre part, de son rôle comme point d’échange intermodal.

Une autre caractéristique du réseau est sa division des infrastructures en deux niveaux d’agrégation : le réseau global et le réseau central. Le premier comprend toutes les infrastructures du réseau multimodal du GTMO 5+5, alors que le deuxième, le réseau central, n’englobe que les infrastructures à caractère prioritaire, celles ayant une grande importance à l’échelle nationale et régionale.

En marge de la précision de cette planification, le CETMO est conscient que si l’on veut aller vers une intégration régionale réelle, ce travail n’est pas suffisant et qu’il faut envisager sa mise en place. À cet égard, et pour compléter la définition du réseau central, un travail d’estimation de coût de son implantation a été entrepris. Les coûts ont été estimés en fonction de l’état d’avancement des infrastructures (planifiées ou à moderniser) mais également en fonction de leurs caractéristiques et du type de relief pour celles dont on ne dispose pas du calcul du coût de leur construction.

Le corridor multimodal transmaghrébin (CMT)

Le corridor multimodal transmaghrébin (CMT) est présent à l’intérieur de tout le réseau central ; il s’agit d’un ensemble d’infrastructures qui traversent les cinq pays du Maghreb sous la forme d’axes routiers et ferroviaires qui relient les capitales et villes principales de la région ainsi que les noeuds de transport les plus importants (ports, aéroports et plateformes logistiques).

La réalisation de ce corridor multimodal transmaghrébin doit marquer le début du déploiement d’un système maghrébin de transport intégré, efficace et multimodal, étape préalable à la création d’une zone économique maghrébine. Cette zone, basée sur la coopération des États et non pas sur leur concurrence, devra permettre un meilleur positionnement de la région au niveau global.

Les infrastructures du corridor multimodal transmaghrébin présentent des niveaux de développement différents, la partie centrale de l’autoroute transmaghrébine étant celle qui se trouve la plus avancée. La partie centrale représente la portion d’autoroute comprise entre Agadir (Maroc) et Ras Jedir (frontière entre la Tunisie et la Libye) ; à l’heure actuelle, 97 % de sa longueur est achevée ou sur le point de l’être. Les 3 % manquants concernent les tronçons frontaliers avec l’Algérie (environ 20 km à la frontière avec le Maroc et 80 km avec la Tunisie) ; ils sont en phase d’études préliminaires de l’avant-projet.

Les deux tronçons ont reçu le label de projet de l’Union pour la Méditerranée (UpM) en février 2012, comme composantes du projet « Achèvement de la partie centrale de l’axe autoroutier transmaghrébin », coordonné par le CETMO et bénéficiant du soutien des ministères des trois pays du Maghreb central. L’intérêt de l’achèvement de l’autoroute transmaghrébine comme axe stratégique principal du réseau routier de la région repose sur l’intégration physique de l’Algérie, du Maroc et de la Tunisie, qui aura pour effet d’augmenter la mobilité des personnes et les échanges commerciaux entre ces pays.

Lorsque cette partie centrale sera en service, il ne restera plus qu’à finir ou moderniser les tronçons qui traversent la Mauritanie et la Libye pour que l’autoroute transmaghrébine soit totalement achevée.

Les actions d’accompagnement

Il est à noter que le projet d’achèvement de la partie centrale n’est pas seulement un projet d’infrastructures : en effet, la volonté de donner une dimension régionale à l’autoroute a porté à la définition d’une composante horizontale, parallèlement à la composante d’infrastructures. Ainsi, le CETMO, en collaboration avec l’UpM a lancé un plan d’action de mesures horizontales dont le but est d’identifier les mesures susceptibles de renforcer les activités de coopération pour une exploitation homogène de l’autoroute transmaghrébine, du point de vue de la qualité des services offerts aux usagers. Ce plan d’action a été conçu en suivant un principe intégrateur, en faisant en sorte de regrouper les savoirs et les compétences des différents organismes impliqués dans la région et que chacun élabore les mesures dans lesquelles il est expert. Cette approche, qui permet un gain en ressources et en efforts, propose des mesures classées par domaine d’action, la facilitation du commerce, le financement et la tarification, la multimodalité ou encore la sécurité routière.

La validation/confirmation des mesures apparaissant dans ce plan d’action s’est déroulée selon le même principe de dialogue et de coopération que l’initiative. Une journée a été organisée à Barcelone en mai 2014, avec la participation des acteurs clés de la gestion du transport routier en Méditerranée Occidentale, à savoir : les représentants des ministères du transport et d’établissements publics maghrébins en charge des autoroutes, les représentants des principales sociétés concessionnaires européennes de la Méditerranée Occidentale et les représentants des principales institutions financières internationales et d’organismes internationaux du secteur des transports ayant des activités au Maghreb.

Le plan d’action résultant de cette journée a été adopté par les ministres du GTMO 5+5 au cours de la dernière conférence ministérielle du groupe, organisée à Lisbonne en 2014. Dans le cadre des mesures proposées, le CETMO a réalisé une étude régionale de commerce extérieur, qui a révélé le caractère peu significatif du commerce intramaghrébin, ce qui s’explique en partie par l’absence de zone de libre-échange. La hausse de ces échanges doit se baser sur l’intégration économique et commerciale et sur l’apparition de nouveaux flux commerciaux demandant le développement et l’intégration des chaines logistiques nationales. Les autres mesures de facilitation du transport relèvent de l’adaptation des réglementations et des conventions internationales ainsi que de l’amélioration des postes-frontières et des processus douaniers, questions que la Commission européenne et des organismes comme l’Organisation mondiale des douanes (OMD) sont en train d’étudier.

Le deuxième volet du plan d’action, le financement et la tarification, contient des mesures liées à l’évaluation de la viabilité des PPP, la promotion d’un système de péage interopérable et la coopération entre gestionnaires de l’autoroute transmaghrébine. Le troisième volet du plan d’action est centré sur la multimodalité, de manière à avoir une vue d’ensemble du corridor transmaghrébin. Le quatrième volet, la sécurité routière, porte principalement sur la réalisation d’un audit par la BEI le long de l’autoroute.

Convaincu que l’essor du transport ferroviaire constitue un avantage pour les pays de la région, l’IPEMED a défendu cette posture dans une étude sur le transport ferroviaire au Maghreb, lors d’un séminaire en novembre 2014. Il y présente le GTMO 5+5 – et le CETMO en sa qualité de Secrétariat technique – comme un des acteurs clés du développement des infrastructures ferroviaires dans la région, grâce à leur interopérabilité. La réalisation de projets communs transmaghrébins dans le secteur ferroviaire doit être perçue comme une opportunité pour contribuer à l’intégration des pays de la région.

Compte tenu des points communs entre le séminaire de l’IPEMED et la décision adoptée par les ministres lors de la conférence ministérielle de Lisbonne, relative à la nécessité d’oeuvrer pour l’élaboration d’un plan d’action pour le transport ferroviaire similaire à celui de l’autoroute transmaghrébine, le CETMO, en collaboration avec l’IPEMED et l’UpM, a mené une réflexion visant à définir un plan d’action ferroviaire.

Trois grands volets ont été identifiés pour ce plan d’action : le marché potentiel, les infrastructures, superstructures et matériel roulant et enfin l’exploitation. Malgré le caractère très technique de ces volets, les aspects économiques, sociaux et environnementaux ne seront pas oubliés et devraient bénéficier eux aussi du développement régional du transport ferroviaire. L’analyse du marché potentiel du trafic international pour le transport ferroviaire tentera de présenter des arguments rigoureux et fiables pour défendre la construction et l’amélioration des infrastructures ferroviaires maghrébines.

L’analyse des infrastructures, superstructures et du matériel roulant devrait permettre d’identifier les mesures nécessaires à l’homogénéisation des caractéristiques physiques et l’interopérabilité de l’axe ferroviaire transmaghrébin. Ces mesures doivent être prises en s’assurant que l’infrastructure ne sera pas un obstacle pour la circulation des trains à travers les pays de la région et qu’elles contribueront au contraire à la connexion efficace des réseaux nationaux et faciliteront les services intramaghrébins de transport de marchandises et la mobilité des personnes.

Concernant l’exploitation de l’axe ferroviaire transmaghrébin, il faut souligner la nécessité d’une réflexion sur les actions à mener lorsque l’axe sera totalement achevé et en service, pour garantir des services de qualité de niveau similaire sur l’ensemble de l’axe et à même de renforcer son caractère régional.

L’approche prévue pour ce plan d’action est la même que celle qui a servi au plan d’action de l’autoroute transmaghrébine, une approche basée sur les infrastructures qui forment le corridor transmaghrébin et qui tient compte des savoirs et de l’expérience des organismes présents dans la région.

Les actions spécifiques portant sur la sécurité

Mises à part les initiatives d’accompagnement pour les infrastructures terrestres, le CETMO prévoit également des initiatives pour le transport maritime et aérien, mais liées, cette fois, à la sécurité.

Cet intérêt pour la sécurité en transport maritime n’est pas nouveau au sein du CETMO : depuis 2012, le centre d’études a réalisé plusieurs études sur cette question, avec en particulier le rapport Diagnostic du réseau de services côtiers de navigation en Méditerranée Occidentale visant à améliorer la sécurité maritime d’août 2013, qui a débouché sur la tenue, en mai 2014, d’une journée de travail à ce sujet. Parmi les différentes conclusions auxquelles sont arrivés les experts, il a été décidé de créer un groupe de travail sur la sécurité maritime et, en particulier, les services de gestion du trafic maritime et le système de suivi du trafic des navires et d’information (VTS/VTMIS).

Conformément au mandat des ministres de réfléchir sur les implications d’une initiative VTS/VTMIS, adopté à la VIIIe conférence des ministres du GTMO 5+5, une première réunion du groupe a été organisée à Tanger en février 2016.

Dans le domaine aérien, la question de la sécurité s’est focalisée sur les services de navigation aérienne. Bien qu’il existe en Méditerranée Occidentale différents cadres de travail sous-régionaux en matière de navigation aérienne, cette initiative du CETMO a permis de réunir tous les prestataires de services aériens de la région dans le but d’identifier ensemble des possibilités de coopération. Il est attendu de cette initiative (toujours en cours) qu’elle contribue à harmoniser la navigation aérienne en Méditerranée Occidentale.

La logistique

Les paragraphes précédents ont abordé brièvement les actions horizontales et d’accompagnement réalisées directement dans chaque mode de transport. Mais de nos jours les transports ne peuvent plus être considérés isolément, il convient de travailler et de proposer des actions qui favorisent la connectivité et les transferts modaux, ce qui permet des gains de temps et de ressources et, en conséquence, un renforcement de la compétitivité des chaînes logistiques et des systèmes de transport nationaux et régionaux.

Conscient de cela, le CETMO considère le développement de la logistique comme une des actions majeures à réaliser au cours des prochaines années. À cet égard, le centre d’études travaille actuellement sur le projet Logismed soft, projet coordonné par la BEI qui vise à faire avancer la logistique dans les pays de la Méditerranée, grâce à l’implantation d’un réseau de plateformes logistiques ou de développeurs logistiques.

Il est organisé autour de trois composantes. Une composante coordination, qui définit la notion de plateformes logistiques (caractéristiques, services et gouvernance) et de réseau Logismed et qui veille à la cohérence générale du projet. Une composante formation qui vise à promouvoir des actions permettant une élévation du niveau d’étude et de connaissance en matière de logistique dans les pays méditerranéens bénéficiaires du projet et enfin une composante observatoire qui travaille sur l’élaboration d’un outil permettant de suivre l’évolution du transport et de la logistique dans la région.

Logismed soft est un autre exemple de coordination et de coopération entre organismes dans le but de mener à bien des projets concrets ; en effet dans ce cas-ci, à part la BEI et le CETMO, d’autres organismes sont impliqués dans sa réalisation (Banque mondiale, CE et UpM).

Comme cela est apparu tout au long du document, la création de liens et de partenariats entre institutions est un facteur clé pour tirer profit de l’ensemble des savoirs existants et établir des synergies entre parties impliquées, mais c’est aussi un modèle d’intégration dont bénéficient toute la région et ses populations.

En ce sens, la création du réseau de réflexion « MedThink 5+5 » composé d’instituts de recherche et d’organisations publiques de diplomatie, qui a été proposée et formalisée lors du Ier Forum MedThink est tout à fait opportune car elle s’inscrit dans la même logique que les travaux et centres d’intérêt du CETMO et du GTMO 5+5.

Vers des mix énergétiques durables en Méditerranée Occidentale : des défis partagés et des perspectives d’intégration

Mohamed Behnassi, directeur du Centre de Recherche en Environnement, Sécurité humaine et Gouvernance (CERES), Maroc


Depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, la consommation d’énergie dans le monde a augmenté deux fois plus rapidement que l’expansion démographique. À l’horizon 2050, la population mondiale pourrait atteindre 10 milliards d’habitants et, avec une croissance de 1,7 % par an, on doit prévoir un doublement de la demande mondiale d’énergie (Fontana, 2013). Une telle évolution aura inévitablement des impacts négatifs inestimables sur la durabilité des systèmes socio-écologiques avec des implications sécuritaires et éthiques énormes. De ce fait, on estime actuellement que le modèle énergétique conventionnel, reproduit ces dernières décennies par la majorité des pays du Sud, est parvenu a ses limites vu son manque de viabilité et la difficulté de le généraliser a l’ensemble de la planète. Incontestablement, le recul continu des ressources énergétiques fossiles, les tendances géopolitiques incertaines, les risques environnementaux, climatiques et sanitaires croissants des émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) et de substances polluantes, etc., sont tous des dynamiques qui semblent confirmer ce constat.

Le monde semble entrer dans un temps d’insécurité énergétique où se mêlent géographie des ressources, lois du marché, besoins de développement, contraintes environnementales, désordres mondiaux et jeux de puissance. Dans ce contexte, surgissent plusieurs questions d’importance géostratégique auxquelles le marché seul ne peut apporter de réponse : c’est certainement aux États que revient la responsabilité d’organiser individuellement et collectivement les régulations indispensables (Scheer, non daté).

Pour Gawdat (2015), il est vrai que c’est difficile d’évaluer pleinement les impacts des dynamiques actuelles, mais leur combinaison fait ressortir les incertitudes croissantes qui apparaissent sur le marché mondial de l’énergie. Toutefois, cela ne s’applique pas aux externalités environnementales qui sont maintenant évaluées avec une certitude scientifique avancée : au-delà de la pollution atmosphérique et de ses impacts sanitaires et écologiques, l’enjeu climatique, qui remet en question le modèle énergétique dominant, exige des sociétés contemporaines d’entreprendre des transformations profondes de leurs trajectoires de développement. Le développement d’un paradigme énergétique durable et adapté aux enjeux actuels et futurs s’impose donc avec acuité. Heureusement, nos capacités scientifiques et technologiques ainsi que les cadres de gouvernance existants peuvent faciliter l’innovation et le développement de choix alternatifs. En ce sens, notons que les énergies renouvelables sont considérées actuellement comme une voie à emprunter pour assurer une transition énergétique susceptible de répondre simultanément à plusieurs enjeux et opportunités (croissance économique, sécurité et efficacité énergétiques, sécurité humaine et environnementale, etc.), malgré que des précautions s’imposent aussi.

Le présent papier s’inscrit dans cette perspective globale, mais focalise plutôt sur la Méditerranée occidentale. La situation énergétique des pays de cette zone est variable et hétérogène, dans la mesure où il y a : des pays importateurs nets de l’énergie fossile ; des pays qui en sont producteurs et exportateurs ; des pays avec une dépendance énergétique forte, une facture énergétique pesant lourdement sur leur développement global, une insécurité quant à l’approvisionnement externe et un faible potentiel en énergies renouvelables ; des pays qui ont réussi à développer des mix énergétiques assurant à la fois la sécurité et l’ouverture sur les sources alternatives d’énergie sobre en carbone ; etc.

Les dynamiques de la transition énergétique en Méditerranée Occidentale

Au cours de ces dernières années, plusieurs facteurs ont affecté la sécurité énergétique [1] des pays de la Méditerranée Occidentale, qu’on peut présenter comme suit :

• La volatilité des marchés d’énergies fossiles en raison de l’épuisement progressif de leurs gisements et des coûts d’extraction de plus en plus élevés ont incité les pays de la Méditerranée Occidentale importateurs de l’énergie à prendre des initiatives pour limiter leur dépendance énergétique.

• Le déplacement du barycentre de la demande énergétique mondiale vers le Sud-Est (Asie et pays en développement) avec des implications géopolitiques importantes. L’intensification de la compétition entre les géants économiques émergents (Chine2 et Inde), les pays de l’OCDE et les pays producteurs, dont certains usent de l’énergie comme d’une arme diplomatique, peut contribuer à exacerber les tensions dans certaines régions. Les schémas de l’énergie mondiale seront probablement encore modifiés par l’émergence économique de l’Afrique et l’évolution importante de sa démographie.

• Les bouleversements géopolitiques et sécuritaires dans certains pays producteurs (comme ceux de l’Amérique latine ou de la région MENA qui représentent à eux-seuls 63 % des réserves mondiales de pétrole et 35 % des réserves de gaz) ainsi que la possibilité d’interruptions de fournitures en gaz, qui s’est plus particulièrement manifestée lors de la dernière crise russo-ukrainienne (15 % du gaz importé par l’UE transitent par l’Ukraine), sont des facteurs qui contribuent actuellement à l’insécurité des approvisionnements externes.

• La décision de nombreux pays de sortir du nucléaire en raison des défis et des risques redoutables qu’il faut prendre en compte (erreurs humaines, défauts de conception majeurs, coûts élevés de construction, la question de la sécurité, la gestion des déchets, la proximité entre le nucléaire civil et les applications militaires et les catastrophes liées aux multiples facteurs comme le récent désastre de Fukushima Daiichi), décision qui aura des incidences majeures en termes d’augmentation des prix de l’électricité et des émissions de GES.

• Les exigences croissantes en matière d’environnement, d’émission de GES (surtout après l’adoption de l’Accord de Paris en décembre 2015) et de traçabilité des produits incitent de plus en plus les pays à faire des choix énergétiques durables et à différencier les produits et les biens à la consommation en fonction de leur contenu en énergie, un nouvel impératif à considérer par les économies de demain.

L’énergie renouvelable comme vecteur d’intégration en Méditerranée occidentale

La sécurité de la Méditerranée occidentale, tout comme son développement, dépendent désormais du processus d’intégration entre les pays de la zone. Plusieurs défis confrontés sont dus à des causes internes, mais il en est beaucoup qui sont le fait de phénomènes extérieurs ayant trouvé dans la zone un terrain fertile pour se reproduire et s’aggraver : immigration clandestine, déséquilibres du marché du travail, incertitudes dans les marchés de l’énergie et des produits alimentaires, sécurité hydrique et climatique, pollution de la mer, violence et terrorisme, etc. Pour apporter des réponses efficaces à ces défis, il est désormais vital d’adopter une stratégie commune entre les pays des deux rives (Meletti, 2009).

Le défi énergétique, commun aux pays de la Méditerranée Occidentale, a le potentiel d’induire un changement historique dans les fondements des relations internationales et régionales. En effet, les dynamiques actuelles dans ce secteur et leurs implications transcendent, de par leur nature, les espaces nationaux. La sécurité énergétique s’impose de plus en plus comme une exigence à plusieurs niveaux et ses solutions exigent une responsabilité éminemment collective, abstraction faite des statuts des pays, qu’ils soient producteurs d’énergie ou qu’ils en soient dépourvus. Une telle exigence se justifie par les défis communs que la communauté internationale doit relever, non seulement ceux relatifs au développement durable, mais aussi ceux liés à sa condition nécessaire, à savoir la paix entre les peuples et la fin de la violence et du terrorisme (HCP, non daté).

Selon cette logique, les dynamiques pesant actuellement sur la sécurité énergétique de plusieurs pays de la Méditerranée occidentale rendent impératif pour ces pays de développer des cadres de coopération dans un objectif d’intégration. La zone doit parvenir à concevoir une politique commune de l’énergie dans laquelle le pétrole sera réservé à des usages spécifiques (comme le transport aérien et maritime, les lubrifiants et la pétrochimie) et des alternatives crédibles aux énergies fossiles seront développées dans une optique d’indépendance énergétique et de durabilité socio-écologique. Cette perspective est stratégique puisque les énergies renouvelables suscitent déjà un intérêt inédit dans la zone ; un intérêt qui s’inscrit également dans une dynamique universelle similaire étant donné que la plupart des enjeux sont partagés [3]. Par exemple, la conscience des conséquences des émissions de GES et de leurs effets sur l’équilibre climatique et l’avenir de la planète suscite une inquiétude qui est devenue universelle ; la question de l’énergie est maintenant indissociablement liée à l’environnement et au climat. C’est une équation forte, préoccupante et marquée aussi par des incertitudes (Chevalier, non daté).

Le positionnement stratégique de la Méditerranée Occidentale dans le secteur des énergies renouvelables pourra : augmenter la compétitivité des pays membres ; créer de nouveaux emplois, notamment dans les petites et moyennes entreprises, tout en générant des effets d’entraînement sur d’autres secteurs [4], réduire les dépenses publiques dans le domaine de l’énergie ; transformer certains pays en exportateurs d’électricité ; et booster la complémentarité économique dans la zone. Pour Mattera (2013), une forte croissance des énergies renouvelables constitue l’option dite « sans regret », notamment pour les pays importateurs nets d’énergie qui constituent la majorité au sein de la Méditerranée Occidentale.

Toutefois, il faut reconnaître que les pays de la rive sud n’ont pas encore les moyens suffisants pour exploiter pleinement leur potentiel, mettre en place et accompagner de grands projets dans le domaine des énergies renouvelables. Par ailleurs, la composante environnementale ferait non seulement de ces pays des modèles en la matière, mais permettrait aussi le cofinancement des projets par des fonds environnementaux tels que le Fonds pour l’environnement mondial, le Mécanisme pour un développement propre (MDP) et le Fonds vert pour le climat. Une telle perspective permettra aussi aux entreprises de ces pays de réaliser des projets gigantesques et de satisfaire une demande significative en électricité tout en assumant leurs engagements environnementaux, grâce à une énergie propre et renouvelable (Mouline, non daté).

L’association des pays de la rive nord aux projets entrepris par ceux de la rive sud, dans la perspective d’une coopération solide, contribuera sûrement à augmenter la part du renouvelable dans leurs mix énergétiques et à résoudre le problème de l’intermittence [5] de ce type de sources. Elle permettra aux pays de la rive sud de continuer leur développement et même de devenir exportateurs d’électricité verte en s’appuyant sur des énergies nationales, économiques, propres et sûres et aux pays de la rive nord de remplir leurs obligations internationales en matière de réduction des GES. Toutefois, les pays de la rive nord concentrent encore une grande part de leurs investissements sur le plan national. Si l’objectif est réellement de développer des énergies sobres en carbone partout dans le monde, ces pays, historiquement principaux émetteurs, devraient autoriser les pays de la rive sud à vendre sur le marché « vert européen » leur électricité produite à partir des énergies renouvelables. Si cette possibilité est offerte aux pays de la rive sud, lorsque les réseaux électriques le permettent et lorsque les interconnexions existent entre les pays, le développement des projets d’énergies renouvelables dans ces pays pourrait connaître un essor important (Mouline, non daté).

Par ailleurs, les problèmes d’espace, rencontrés parfois par les promoteurs dans les pays de la rive nord, se posent rarement dans certains pays de la rive sud (l’implantation coûteuse des champs d’éoliennes en mer dans les pays de la rive nord est l’une des solutions apportées). De ce fait, si l’accès aux marchés de l’électricité verte est ouvert aux pays de la rive sud, ceux-ci peuvent offrir des sites immenses où l’impact environnemental et visuel des projets d’énergies renouvelables (solaire, éolien) serait minimisé. Ces pays peuvent même devenir des exportateurs de ce type d’électricité que des pays de la rive nord se trouvant à proximité pourront importer de régions disposant de territoires énormes avec d’excellents gisements et des densités de population souvent très faibles [6]. Se posera alors la problématique du transfert de l’énergie sur des distances assez longues qu’il faut gérer pour éviter les pertes en ligne (à l’instar de la technique de lignes haute tension à courant continu qui relient les barrages canadiens à New York) (Mouline, non daté).

Cette perspective rendra ainsi la Méditerranée Occidentale un exemple de coopération énergétique associant solidarité Nord-Sud et développement des énergies renouvelables. Cela donnera encore un signal fort aux pays de la rive sud pour qu’ils se lancent sérieusement dans les énergies renouvelables tout en accompagnant leur décollage industriel, économique et social.

Il faut rappeler ici que malgré les efforts soutenus dans le domaine de l’énergie, les pays de la rive nord resteront vraisemblablement dépendants des fournitures de pétrole et de gaz provenant d’Afrique du Nord (et d’ailleurs). Une action plus résolue est donc nécessaire pour améliorer la stabilité politique et le développement économique et humain des pays de la rive sud en faveur d’une population, jeune pour la plupart, désireuse d’un avenir d’opportunités en lieu et place de la frustration et du désenchantement actuels. Cela réduira aussi les risques affectant la stabilité et la sécurité des pays de la rive nord, souvent amplifiés par les conditions des pays de la rive sud. Il est vrai que ceux-ci décident encore de leur politique économique sans tenir compte des États voisins dans le cadre des modèles différents. Toutefois, l’enjeu énergétique, notamment dans une perspective de sécurité et de changement climatique, reste un point de convergence puisque le défi est partagé. La logique de l’intégration économique commence à s’imposer dans une conjoncture internationale changeante, et la coopération énergétique peut être une composante structurelle dans cette perspective.

Il faut avouer que le Maghreb est un acteur économique qui ne pèse pas encore lourdement sur la scène internationale. L’intégration énergétique de la Méditerranée Occidentale exige donc de relancer le projet maghrébin sur des bases plus solides. Dans le cadre de l’Union maghrébine, une coopération énergétique devait être de mise (par exemple le volet énergie doit être désormais l’un des sujets clés de la Commission sur l’économie de l’Union maghrébine [7]), elle est pour le moment quasi-inexistante, si ce n’est l’interconnexion et les faibles échanges d’électricité et de gaz entre les pays de l’Afrique du Nord. L’UE est déjà un allié indiscutable de la coopération Sud-Sud en Méditerranée et, notamment, de l’intégration du Maghreb, sachant que l’UE, à la différence des autres acteurs, ne considère pas la région comme un simple marché. Donc, il n’y a aucune contradiction entre les processus d’intégration verticale et les processus d’intégration horizontale d’une part, et entre un Maghreb uni et l’intégration énergétique de la Méditerranée Occidentale, d’autre part.

Booster la coopération énergétique en Méditerranée Occidentale nécessite aussi de dépasser les énormes contradictions et oppositions qui divisent certains pays de la zone.

Toutefois, depuis la création de l’Union pour la Méditerranée (UPM), la sécurité tout comme le développement de l’Europe dépendent plus que jamais du processus d’intégration méditerranéenne (Meletti, 2009). En ce sens, intégrer structurellement les pays de la rive sud de la Méditerranée Occidentale au sein de l’espace de dialogue, d’échanges et de coopération avec les pays de la rive nord peut promouvoir des réformes sur plusieurs plans, y compris l’énergétique.

Une telle intégration pourra aussi aider certains pays de la région à surmonter les difficultés structurelles et conjoncturelles pouvant les fragiliser davantage. Par exemple, dans un passé proche, les pays exportateurs de pétrole (comme l’Algérie et la Libye) ont jouit de réserves monétaires considérables dues aux prix élevés ; ces réserves ont accru et contribué à maintenir à son niveau la dépense publique interne, y compris pour les infrastructures et les projets sociaux (Meletti, 2009). Cependant, la situation actuelle est très préoccupante avec la baisse vertigineuse des prix du pétrole.

Plusieurs pays de la Méditerranée Occidentale se trouvent en situation de claire dépendance énergétique à l’égard des pays dont la fiabilité politique est discutable. Les options stratégiques disponibles pour se préparer à l’éventualité d’un recours politique à l’arme énergétique de la part de ces pays valent inévitablement pour le long terme. Elles sont de deux types : il y a celles qui vont dans le sens d’une diversification maximale du mix énergétique, misant sur les énergies renouvelables ; et celles qui tendent à jouer la concurrence entre fournisseurs potentiels par l’aménagement de nouvelles infrastructures et l’établissement de nouveaux partenariats avec les pays producteurs. Quant à la première voie, les gouvernements ont conscience des retours incalculables sur investissement qu’elle offre, mais ils savent aussi qu’il s’agit d’une méthode sans calendrier précis et sans données assurées. La deuxième voie peut et doit être empruntée à partir d’un partenariat énergétique lui-même fondé sur la sécurité des approvisionnements, sur la concurrence et la transparence des marchés et sur la protection de l’environnement (Meletti, 2009).

Un autre aspect qui relève de la gouvernance énergétique, tient au fait que les pays de la rive nord n’ont qu’une marge réduite quant à l’élaboration de leurs politiques énergétiques, étant donné que les grandes orientations sont décidées au niveau de l’UE. Celle-ci reste l’élément central qui procure le cadre économique et la régulation et continue a garantir une synergie énergétique, qui s’opère difficilement dans les faits. L’UE se dirige vers une énergie décentralisée, en changeant le paradigme de la satisfaction de la demande d’énergie. Pour certains pays, comme la France, développer une énergie décentralisée ne sera pas aise au vu de la configuration etatique ; d’autres pays comme l’Italie se dirige vers une reforme en recourant a des mecanismes de subvention et de paiement de capacites, qui ne sont pas soutenables pour le budget. Chaque État met en oeuvre donc ses propres priorités, parfois conflictuelles entre elles.

Au niveau de la rive sud, bien que leurs marges de manoeuvres soient larges, la situation est plus compliquée parce que les pays décident encore de leur politique énergétique sans tenir compte des États voisins, et généralement, sans un minimum d’orientation de la part de l’Union maghrébine. Par conséquent, toute intégration énergétique au sein de la Méditerranée Occidentale exige préalablement la mise en place de cadres de gouvernance assurant la coordination et l’harmonisation entre les pays membres dans le sens d’une synergie et d’une complémentarité énergétique.

Finalement, consolider une politique énergétique commune au sein de la Méditerranée Occidentale nécessite aussi : la réalisation des projets d’infrastructure d’intérêt commun ; le renforcement mutuel de la recherche dans le domaine des nouvelles technologies énergétiques via, par exemple, la mise en place d’un Centre d’études des énergies renouvelables pour la Méditerranée Occidentale ; et le développement de l’intelligence énergétique dans le sens de repenser les habitudes et les structures et d’inventer de nouveaux modèles qui permettront de répondre aux défis.

La vision du futur énergétique ne peut, cependant, être envisagée sans être insérée dans le cadre plus large des impératifs du modèle de société démocratique, juste, tolérante et ouverte auquel aspire les pays de la région. Les choix technologiques, les rapports économiques, sociaux et culturels devraient aussi avoir un impact évident sur le mode de gestion de ce secteur au sein de la région ; et ce mode de gestion doit, à son tour, nécessairement impacter, d’une manière forte, l’évolution des niveaux de disparité géographique et sociale que la Méditerranée Occidentale doit résorber.


En guise de conclusion, la perspective de l’intégration au niveau de la Méditerranée Occidentale autour des énergies renouvelables pourra transformer la zone en un échiquier stratégique de l’énergie durable ; cela conférera aussi à la zone un rôle de leadership énergétique avec des retombées stratégiques énormes sur les plans socioéconomiques, environnementaux et technologiques. En effet, une coopération énergétique avancée pourra transformer la zone en un modèle d’intégration régionale. Aujourd’hui, le Dialogue 5+5 est le forum d’échange et de coopération qui relie le plus les partenaires du sud à la rive nord de la Méditerranée. Sa vitalité s’explique par son approche souple et participative, fondée sur des intérêts partagés, et même s’il ne possède pas de structures formelles, il donne davantage de cohérence aux stratégies d’intégration Nord-Sud et Sud-Sud. L’énergie peut être un vecteur clé et vital de cette intégration régionale.


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A Common Strategy for Sustainable Water Management in the Western Mediterranean

Eugenia Ferragina, Italian National Research Council – Institute for Studies on Mediterranean Societies (CNR-ISSM)

Desirée A.L. Quagliarotti, Italian National Research Council – Institute for Studies on Mediterranean Societies (CNR-ISSM)


The Mediterranean countries are and will be more affected by climate change in the course of the 21st century. The impacts of the rise in temperatures, the decrease in rainfall, the multiplication of the number and intensity of extreme events and the possible rise in sea level overlap and amplify the already existing pressures of anthropogenic origin on the natural environment. These dynamics pose substantial risks for the sustainable development and water and food security of these countries. Reducing the cost of desalination, eliminating its reliance on fossil fuel, and mitigating its environmental impacts are crucial. The coupling of renewable energy sources with desalination has the potential to provide a sustainable source of water, address some of the trade-offs between water, energy and food, and reduce GHG emissions.

The Impact of Climate Change in the Western Mediterranean Countries

According to the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC), climate change is a “threat multiplier” whose effects could occur to a greater extent in the countries of the Southern and Eastern Rim of the Basin, which is associated with an increased vulnerability, and a low capacity to respond and adapt to global warming. The CMCC, through models of climate projections to 2050, confirmed for the Mediterranean region the trend hypothesized by the last IPCC report, drawing a scenario characterized by an average temperature rise to around 2°C, an increase of sea level from 6 to 12 cm, a decrease in rainfall between 5 and 10%, a multiplication of the number and intensity of extreme weather events, and an increase in aridity and anthropogenic degradation of soil.

The Western Mediterranean countries show a great inequality in terms of water resource endowment, which mainly penalizes the Southern Rim where the geomorphological and climatic constraints join an unsustainable use of water resource. These factors, both natural and anthropogenic, amplify the imbalance between water demand and supply, feeding a structural deficit that over the years has led to a real water crisis. According to World Bank estimates, these countries show annual water supplies below 1,000 cubic meters per person, which is considered the minimum water requirement for household needs and economic development.

Moreover, the use of non-renewable water resources (fossil water) and excessive withdrawals determine exploitation indices very close to or above 100%.

Global warming will primarily penalize those sectors that are more dependent on climatic variables, such as agriculture. Changes in patterns and trends in heat extremes and precipitations will have a negative impact on crop yields that can only in part be offset by higher CO2 concentrations through the so-called “carbon fertilization effect”. The greatest losses will occur once again in the Southern Rim, which could record, by the end of the century, a decrease in agricultural production up to 50% if appropriate adaptation strategies to mitigate the effects are not adopted (Tab. 1). The low agricultural productivity could deteriorate the degree of food selfsufficiency, making these countries increasingly vulnerable to agricultural price fluctuations in the international market.

Source: UNDP, Arab Human Development Report, 2010.

Water 5+5: Towards a Water Strategy in the Western Mediterranean

The 5+5 Water Strategy in the Western Mediterranean (WSWM) was adopted on 3 March 2015 in Algiers by water ministers of the Western Mediterranean countries (5+5) and their representatives. This strategy intended to implement a common approach in terms of addressing water-related concerns with the goal of strengthening the cooperation in the field of water resources management and achieve greater economic, social and political integration among the countries belonging to this sub-region of the Mediterranean.

The WSWM is a process started at the end of the first decade of the new millennium under the pressure of two countries, Spain and Algeria, which considered the adoption of a water strategy for the Western Mediterranean Basin as a fundamental step to avoid conflicts and political disputes over water resources and to guarantee the human right to water and sanitation. The proposal was endorsed at the Malta Summit in October 2012 by the Heads of State and Government of the 5+5 Dialogue and, in April 2013, the 5+5 foreign ministers agreed in Nouakchott to ask for the support of the European Union to develop this strategy. The initiative was announced during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York and was officially launched at the first 5+5 Economic Forum held in Barcelona on 23 October 2013.

The path that led to the development of the WSWM was characterized by three workshops. The first took place in Valencia in February 2014, where the current situation of water resources was discussed as well as the need for effective governance in the water sector, and the importance of sharing knowledge and experiences in water resources management. The second one was held in Oran in June 2014 with the aim of presenting and developing some proposals in order to approach water resources management and protection in a subregional cooperation framework. The third workshop, in September 2014, was held in Valencia back to back with the 15th Steering Committee Meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Water Information System (EMWIS) and the Steering Committee Meeting of the Mediterranean Knowledge Platform. These preparatory works led to the adoption of the WSWM on 31 March 2015.

As highlighted by the document, the need for a common strategy is linked to a number of issues:

• Public awareness of water demand increase as a result of human activity, namely urbanization, population growth, increased living standards, and economic development in a context of scarce resources and climatic unpredictability;

• Growing competition for water, particularly between water for urban supply, agriculture, energy and industry and the need to combine both political and environmental priorities;

• The need for a water management system able to mitigate the seasonal disparities, from severe summer to floods, from dry to wet years;

• Prevention and protection of water resources quality threatened by human pressure and climate change;

• Prevention and protection of floods often catastrophic for population concentration in lower areas and lack of sustainable land use planning and urbanization.

Beyond these common challenges, the 5+5 countries must also face other water issues linked to their specific environmental and geopolitical features. Most of the 5 European countries of the 5+5 Dialogue are located in an area relatively rich in water resources and can rely on common water-related policies and regulations thanks to the European Water Framework Directive. Quite different are the geographical and institutional contexts of the 5 Southern countries, located in an area characterized by a physical water scarcity within a geopolitical space, that of the Arab Maghreb Union, still under construction and with a long way to go in terms of water policy integration and harmonization.

For that reason, the 5+5 Dialogue could represent a laboratory, a “living space”, within which it is possible to experiment with forms of collaboration, knowledge sharing, convergence of approaches and policies to face water challenges.

The countries involved in this process have identified 13 priority issues and for each have provided a set of tools in order to meet those objectives. The priorities have been grouped into 3 thematic blocks: enhancing Western Mediterranean country policy convergence towards the general principles of a sustainable water policy; fostering cooperation on matters of regional interest; promoting water management improvement (Box 1). In a framework where the Mediterranean region has been identified as one of the main climate change hotspots, Priority 6 (Water-energy-food nexus) and Priority 9 (Climate change adaptation) of the WSWM take on the major strategic role.

Following the endorsement of the WSWM, the water group of the 5+5 Dialogue has been actively working on the preparation of an action plan that aims to promote financing opportunities for projects that support objectives and priorities of the strategy. A work meeting (Workshop 4) took place in Madrid on 10 September 2015 where the first draft action plan, together with a dissemination roadmap as well as rules of the procedures for the organization and operation of the water group, were presented. The fifth workshop towards an Action Plan for WSWM will take place in Valencia on 24-25 October 2016, while the 5+5 water process will present its results at the MedCop 22 scheduled for 11-12 July 2016 in Tangier.

An Emerging Awareness of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Among the most important inter-dependencies in the Mediterranean region and subregions is the water, energy and food nexus.

The three sectors are inextricably linked and are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Water is a key input for energy production processes: fossil fuel production requires water for extraction, transport and processing; thermoelectric generation utilizes water for cooling; hydropower is generated by water availability in rivers or reservoirs; crop production for biofuels, such as ethanol, depend on water supply for irrigation; and renewable energy, such as solar, needs water for cooling and cleaning panels or collectors. At present, energy production in the Southern and Eastern Rim countries accounts for nearly 15% of freshwater withdrawals. Of this water withdrawn, about 11% does not return to the source and therefore is deemed to be consumed. At the same time, energy is used in the supply chain of water for: abstraction (e.g., pumping of groundwater), purification (desalination or wastewater treatment), distribution (transport via pipelines or in urban distribution), utilization (e.g., domestic use or irrigation) and disposal (e.g., on‐site urban or industrial wastewater). The current electricity needs for water management represent 5% for the Northern countries to 10% for the Southern and Eastern countries.

The nexus is even more evident in the interactions between water and food. Agriculture is the largest water user in the Western Mediterranean countries, ranging from 9% for France to 91% for Mauritania.Water is also used during the different stages of the agro-food chain, including processing, distribution, retailing and consumption.

The energy–food nexus relates mainly to energy use within the food supply chain. The agricultural sector consumes energy directly in the form of fuels for land preparation and tillage, crop and pasture management, and transportation or electricity supply, and indirectly by the use of energy-intensive inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides. Energy is also needed during processing, distribution, storage, retail and preparation of food products.

It is expected that the water-energy-food nexus will become more challenging in the future due to the impacts of climate change. In this context, renewable energies can play a significant role in reducing some of the distortions across the nexus elements.

Renewable Energy as an Emerging Solution for Water, Food and Energy Security

As shown in the previous paragraphs, the extreme vulnerability of the Southern Western Mediterranean countries to the impact of climate change, the significant contribution of the Northern Western Mediterranean countries in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and the target agreed during the Cop 21 to contain the increase of global temperature below 2°C, all give a prominent role to Priorities 6 and 9 of the WSWM in terms of mitigating and adapting to the impacts of global warming through the water-energy-food nexus approach.

In the Northern Mediterranean countries, the development of the renewable energy market has grown rapidly in recent years. This expansion is closely related to the launch of Directive 2009/28/EC where the renewable energy mandatory targets at country level are identified in order to achieve, by 2020, a 20% share of renewables in final energy consumption and a 10% share of energy from renewable sources in the transport sector. The European Renewable Energy Directive aims, firstly, to increase the production of energy in order to reduce energy dependence on politically unstable countries and, secondly, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to the use of fossil fuels. From what emerges from the Eurostat data, in 2013 the share of energy from renewable sources in final energy consumption reached 15% in the EU, compared to 8.3% in 2004, while the production of electricity from renewables increased by 11% compared to 2012. Between 1990 and 2012, the total production of electricity from renewable sources increased by 177%. The decline in demand for fossil fuels helped to reduce CO2 emissions by 388 million tons in 2013. According to a European Commission report, the 2020 targets have encouraged European investments in renewable energy, especially in the fields of wind and solar. New incentives for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions emerged during the Paris Agreement where, for the first time in the history of the negotiations, a containment objective of the increase in global average temperature below 2°C was established at the international level. Following the bottom-up of Cop21, countries established their own mitigation targets (so-called pledges) before the conference and the EU has adopted stricter constraints for 2030: a reduction of 40% emissions compared to 1990 and a share of renewables amounting to 27%.

In the Southern Western Mediterranean countries, the use of renewable energy is the most effective way not only to increase the energy supply of those countries that do not have fossil reserves, but also to improve the resilience of those systems that, due to the scarcity of critical resources for human survival – food and water – are most exposed to the impact of climate change. A greater availability of renewable energy can be used to increase the supply of non-conventional water sources, such as desalinated water, whose production is actually characterized by high costs in both economic and environmental terms related mainly to the amount of fossil energy used to feed the reverse osmosis process. As shown in Table 2, currently, the average cost of desalinated water is about $1.3 per m3, but it is destined to double in 2050, due to the gradual depletion of the most economically advantageous energy reserves.

Source: World Bank, Renewable Energy Desalination. An Emerging Solution to Close the Gap in the Middle East and
North Africa, World Bank, 2012.

In addition, the CO2 equivalent emissions related to the use of fossil fuels for desalination are between 270 and 360 million tons. Consequently, an integrated system for production of renewable energy and desalinated water would lead to several advantages from both the socioeconomic and environmental point of view. Southern Mediterranean countries have a strong development potential in renewable energy, especially in the solar sector, due to the presence of vast arid or desert areas with a solar radiation density between 1,300 kWh/m2 and 2,500 kWh/m2 per year. As emerges from the data of the World Bank and a report prepared by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), although the energy supply is mainly represented by fossil fuel, the renewable energy market is characterized by a boom and dynamic with an annual growth rate of 33% (Table 3).

Source: Irena, Mena Renewables Status Report 2013.

Regarding the development of projects that aim to promote the water-food-energy nexus, great opportunities arise in the Southern Western Mediterranean countries.

In order to increase water supply in desert areas, in 2012 Tunisia opened a plant for desalinating groundwater in the Ben Guardane region located in the Medenine province, in the southeast of the country, to provide the local population with about 1.8 million liters of drinking water per day. The second largest solar power plant in the country will power the desalination process, with a capacity of 210 kW. Morocco has recently inaugurated the first phase of the Noor-Ouarzazate solar plan that aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 42% in 2020 and 52% in 2030. The goal is to use the energy to produce desalinated water and meet the national growing energy and water demand of industry, tourism and agriculture. Since 2013, in Mauritania, the OPEC Fund for International Development, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development and the national government funds have co-financed a project of rural electrification by solar energy in the Aftout El Chargui area.

A wind power mini-grid project and a grid-connected hybrid solar, wind and hydro project were approved for funding by the IRENA-ADFD (Abu Dhabi Fund for Development) project facility in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The multi-sectoral projects seek to provide access to clean energy to 169 villages with an average population of about 1,000. The wind energy mini-grid project is to use wind not only to meet electricity needs but also desalinated water and refrigeration needs (ice production) in the conservation of fishery products. In 2011, Algeria launched a national program to develop renewable energy based on Photovoltaic (PV), Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and wind Power and to promote energy efficiency. The program consists of installing up to 12 GW of power generating capacity from renewable sources to meet the domestic electricity demand by 2030.

Although there is substantial renewable energy development potential in the Southern Western Mediterranean countries, challenges exist in terms of making these technologies affordable and accessible. Similarly, technical, socioeconomic and environmental challenges emerge in combining renewable energy with desalination (Table 4). One of the greatest limitations to renewable energy development is the difficulty of comparing investment costs. Renewables are often considered more expensive than conventional fossil resources for the large subsidies that fossil fuels still receive, and because most cost comparisons do not account for the environmental or social benefits of renewables.

In order to exploit the potential offered by the development of renewable energy and minimize the weaknesses that still affect the sector, great opportunities arise from the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation also in terms of exchange of technology and knowledge. The development of production capacity, transfer and distribution of renewable energy has always been considered a priority for the Union for the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Solar Plan (PSM), the Desertec project and the MedGrid project aim to increase the use of solar energy and other renewable technologies for the production, by 2020, of 20 GW of electricity in order to meet the growing energy demand of the South-Eastern Mediterranean countries and export the energy surplus to the European countries through the creation of a long-distance transport network.

Source: World Bank, Renewable Energy Desalination. An Emerging Solution to Close the Gap in the Middle East and
North Africa, World Bank, 2012.

Cooperation between the Western Mediterranean countries in the field of renewables together with the Water Strategy within the 5+5 Dialogue can thus accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon economic model and satisfy at the same time both the mitigation targets set by the European policies and the adaptation needs to climate change impacts of the Southern Mediterranean countries.


The challenge of climate change requires a strategy within the 5+5 Dialogue based on the combined action of measures aimed at mitigation and adaptation. Through the development of alternative energy sources and the optimization of the nexus between food, water and energy, it is possible to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the vulnerability of those socioeconomic systems that are more exposed to the effects of global warming.

The Mediterranean region has a huge potential for the development of renewable energy that, exploiting the geo-climatic features of different areas, can take various forms (wind, solar, hydro, marine, geothermal, biomass and biofuels). The 5+5 Dialogue is therefore the most effective way to respond to the climate challenge by using the potential of the renewable energy sector. This solution will allow, on the one hand, greenhouse gas emissions related to the use of fossil fuels to be reduced and, on the other, the growing energy demand from a Mediterranean Northern Rim thirsty for alternative energy sources and a Southern Rim thirsty for non-conventional water resources to be met.


EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2015), Renewable Energy Progress Report, Brussels.

EUROSTAT, Eurostat Yearbook 2015. FAO (2011), Energy Smart Agriculture, Rome.

FAO, Aquastat database 2015.

FERRAGINA EUGENIA and QUAGLIAROTTI DESIREE A.L. (2015), «Gli effetti delle dinamiche globali sui paesi mediterranei: rischio e vulnerabilità ambientale». In: Eugenia Ferragina (Ed.), Rapporto sulle economie del Mediterraneo. Edizione 2015, Bologna, Il Mulino. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate) (2013), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Geneva.

IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) (2013), Mena Renewables Status Report 2013, Abu Dhabi.

IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) (2015), Renewable Energy in the Water, Energy & Food Nexus, Abu Dhabi.

SADIK ABDUL-KARIM, EL-SOLH MAHMOUD and NAJIB SAAB (2014), Arab Environment: Food Security, Annual Report No. 7, Beirut, Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED).

UNDP (2010), Arab Human Development Report.

WORLD BANK (2012), Renewable Energy Desalination. An Emerging Solution to Close the Gap in the Middle East and North Africa, Washington DC.

WORLD BANK (2016), World Development Indicators 2016, Washington DC.

5+5 DIALOGUE, Water Strategy in the Western Mediterranean, First 5+5 Ministerial Water Conference, Algiers, 31 March 2015.

Social Challenges, Migrations, Education and Youth

Migrants, Women and Young People in the 5+5 Countries. Managing Migration Policies beyond the Security Approach

Daniele Frigeri, Director, Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale (CeSPI)

Marco Zupi, Scientific Director, Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale (CeSPI)


In general, there are various and intertwined short-term and long-term determinants of migration: response to economic conditions and perspectives, mass poverty, violence and war, political risks, population pressure, climate change and other factors.

Economic development in countries of origin influence the extent and patterns of migration, as well as admission criteria of host countries. Human mobility depends on migrant characteristics and on policies of both host and sending countries (labor and credit markets, job opportunities, welfare system, systems of immigrants’ admission, civic participation and citizenship).

Therefore, the idea of clearly distinguishing between economic migrants and refugees/asylum seekers is useful for policy prescriptions, but they cannot be fully separated, particularly when the condition of refugee and displaced people becomes structural and long-term.

History tells us that geographic proximity explains most immigrant profiles in Greece and Italy, cultural (historical/language) and colonial ties explain the situation in France, Spain and the UK, and political attitudes explain the reality of immigration policy in Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

Based on existing structural differences, the 5+5 countries and, more broadly, the Mediterranean countries constitute a region with potential complementarities, in terms of demographic and employment specific characteristics, by exploiting migration dynamics.

Unfortunately, the pursuit of win-win-win opportunities for both host and sending countries as well as for migrants and transit countries, through the systematic promotion of mutually reinforcing policy actions, is still an objective, not a reality.

The reality of migration is much more complex: non-convergent interests exist among countries of origin, transit and destination (and interests and voices within each of them); short-term pressures, even if the result of the underlying structural processes are permanently setting the political agenda; international migrants and refugees appear as overlapped phenomena, and this is an undesirable inconvenience for policy-making.

Migration through a developmental lens has to be re-conceptualized in terms of human mobility (that is, in terms of capabilities and rights) and sustainability, in such a way that labor movements can play a part in the process of development.

Structural Determinants of Potential Migration in the 5+5 Countries

In the Med region there are some resource-poor and labor-abundant (RP&LA) economies, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, but also Jordan and Lebanon, acting as the structural underlying causes of young people’s migration. There are also significantly different resource-rich and labor-scarce (RR&LS) economies, such as Libya and many Middle East countries, which should tend (in peaceful conditions) to attract immigrants, similarly to rich-economies with an ageing population (RE&AP) in Europe. There are also some resource-rich and labor-abundant (RR&LA) economies, such as Algeria, but also Syria and Yemen.

Therefore, there are political responsibilities to be accepted and the point is that a longerterm view is needed and, at least in theory, the 5+5 Dialogue on Migration aims at a forward-looking agenda, considering projections on demographic transition and economic conditions rather than being dominated by short-termism.

Source: Data from World Development Indicators database (last updated: 19/5/2016)

If we go back to the beginning of the 1960s, we understand that the current demographic profile is the result of the demographic transition that occurred in the last few decades: comparing the 5 countries on the northern shore and the 5 countries on the southern shore, the upside down profile by age cohorts persists.

In absolute terms, the different population size at the beginning and demographic growth rate explain the rapid convergence process already underway. The absolute numbers of young North (as well as sub-Saharan) Africans entering the workforce is expanding fast and will continue to do so over the foreseeable future.

Source: Data from World Development Indicators database (last updated: 19/5/2016)

The rapid growth of the population on the southern shore of the Mediterranean basin, occasioned by the pattern of demographic size and growth rate, together with the GNI levels and growth rates, have naturally produced the migration trends in the area. Indeed, it is enough to consider that, in the absence of migration, the EU-15 population is expected to drop by 10 million during the next two decades (esp. Italy, Greece, Germany and Austria).

Source: Data from World Development Indicators database (last updated: 19/5/2016)

In economic geographic terms, it is true that the Mediterranean basin shows a very high concentrated area of business, equal to less than 10 percent of the land surface. This means that the region with the highest concentration of people in coastal regions (53 percent) is experiencing a rapid urbanization process.

A direct consequence of the highly concentrated development, characterized by an agglomeration economy pattern, implies the risk of distance from the core urban areas for those who live in rural areas. It is crucial to address all the individual and placebased features of regions, in terms of economic, social and institutional specificities, which are regarded as relevant dimensions to define appropriate development policies. This implies the need to reconsider and re-elaborate the policies of development as locally-embedded dynamics, as well as to emphasize the importance of social cohesion and the fight against inequality. The unevenness of progress within countries and regions and the severe inequalities that exist among populations, especially between rural and urban areas, between and within migrants and natives, must be faced. As emphasized by the so-called 2009 “Barca Report” [1] , much more emphasis must be put on territorial convergence and how strategies should consider economic, social, political and institutional diversity in order to maximize both the local and the aggregate potential for development.

A highly concentrated development and agglomeration economy pattern is the common characteristic in the Mediterranean basin; however, it is important to note the fundamental difference in population density between the South 5 and the North 5 groups.

Source: Data from World Development Indicators database (last updated: 19/5/2016)

Migration Reality in the Area: Facts, Rules, Perceptions and Attitudes

If we look at the maps of conflicts, violence, social and economic poverty, unemployment and inequality in North Africa, we immediately see a complex map of inter-linkages at local level, worsening a dis-empowerment process of the majority of the population.

In North African countries, the vast majority of people live in middle-income countries but, despite the fact that the level of per capita GNI is relatively high, the region today faces the highest rate of youth unemployment and the lowest youth and female participation rate worldwide, with an expected further increase over the next few years. Women continue to suffer from higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of employment, they are less likely to participate in the labor force and face higher risks of vulnerable employment (the gender gap is more than 20 percent in North Africa), i.e. being self-employed or a contributing family worker. In addition to the discrimination suffered by women and youth, these gender gaps represent a substantial and serious waste of the development potential of women and young people in terms of their skills, talent and motivation. At the same time, rural poverty is fueling migration to the (mainly coastal) cities, unable to create enough jobs to absorb the increasing labor force. In this way, the status of gender empowerment affects geographical polarization and social stratification, migration dynamics and development process.

As regards the migration dynamics, North African countries are very different from sub- Saharan African countries: in relative terms, many more people migrate from North Africa (around 4.1 percent of those who remain at home, compared to some 1.7 percent in the case of sub-Saharan Africa). Moreover, around three quarters of sub-Saharan African migrants move to other African countries and only a small proportion go through the Sahara Desert and go into North Africa. By contrast, 60 percent of African people who live in OECD countries and 93 percent of those who reside in the Gulf States (mostly men, with low skilled jobs in the construction industry) come from North Africa, a region with a very low intra-area human mobility [2].

The combination of:

1.a persisting economic crisis in Southern Europe,

2.a regional humanitarian disaster produced by five years of civil war in Syria,

3.the continuing crisis in Libya coming in the context of wider unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa (with the unresolved question of Palestinian refugees and the larger Palestinian State occupation problem, above all),and economic migration and asylum seekers emergency in the Mediterranean, with North Africa acting as transit region for sub-Saharan but also Middle East and Asian (i.e. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria) migrants who are trying to take the sea route towards Europe (Mauritania and Morocco on the Western African route, Libya on the Central Mediterranean route, Egypt on the Eastern Mediterranean route), creates conditions for imposing migration in Europe as a security threat, severely marginalizing development perspective.

In terms of factual data, around 1.82 million persons were detected while attempting to irregularly cross the EU’s external borders in 2015, setting an unprecedented record compared to the 282,500 migrants who arrived in the EU in the course of the whole of 2014 [3]; moreover, around 20 percent of all migrants arriving by sea are children [4]. In 2015, 3,770 persons were reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea and up to 30 April 2016, 631 persons had been reported as deaths in the Mediterranean [5]. Around 1.35 million applications for international protection were lodged in the EU, Norway and Switzerland, with numbers rising steadily [6].

Massive and “unwanted” migrants – with alleged asylum seekers feared as potential illegal immigrants, criminals or even terrorists – are perceived as the main causes of abuse and the cost of the Welfare State, an attack on cultural (and religious) identity, pressure to drag down the average wage of low skilled workers, increasing undeclared employment and levels of youth unemployment.

This is despite the fact that that OECD data [7] shows that the price of the economic crisis paid by immigrants who live in Southern Europe is much higher than the price paid by the native population: the labor market outcomes of immigrants in terms of unemployment, risk of exclusion, quality of jobs, over qualification and income all converge in defining a stratified society that marginalizes the most vulnerable groups.

At the same time, in terms of perceptions, feelings and attitudes, there are many preconceptions about the number of immigrants (systematically overestimated), and the actual integration outcomes of immigrants and their children in Europe (particularly in the Southern European countries). Therefore, it is no surprise that the integration of economic immigrants and asylum seekers is repeatedly mentioned as one of the main issues of concern in public opinion surveys.

Consequently, migration at as the top of the European policy agenda and the need has arisen to design short-term policies aimed at controlling and limiting migration and refugee inflows. As a corollary to this, tensions turn into a migrant integration crisis, and a new ambiguous Security & Development (S&D) nexus is experienced.

In Europe, traditional security (and military) issues began to give way to the use of complementary financial, legal and political instruments employed in the neighboring regions, with Migration & Development (M&D) programs and initiatives that represent the new frontier.

We should not hide the fact that such a short-term oriented nexus between M&D is in danger of turning into a bargaining chip rather than a coherent approach, and such a result would be detrimental to the long-term horizon. The principle of conditionalities pushed through compensation between migration control and development aid may be just a panacea.

The inherent tension between the short-term interest in reducing migration inflows, managing the emergency and assisting the repatriation of immigrants and asylum seekers to their countries of origin or transit from one side, and the long-term perspectives on sustainable development from the other side cannot be circumvented merely by declaring holistic initiatives. The temptation to externalize the control of migration flows to African transit and origin countries is extremely acute.

These last few months have certainly confirmed this impression, when we perform textual analysis on recent policy documents, such as:

• the conclusions of the 12th Ministerial meeting of the 5+5 Dialogue in Tangiers (of 15 October 2015) [8]

• the Valletta Summit on Migration (of 11–12 November 2015),

• the European Parliament resolution on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (of 12 April 2016),

• the Italian Migration Compact non-paper contribution to an EU strategy for external action on migration (of 21 April 2016), the European Commission Communication [9] and the European Council Conclusions [10] (of June 2016).

The 5+5 Dialogue in Tangiers document sets specific and sequential points:

1.policy dialogue, with Libya as the key case of interest, and stability in the region, with Sahel, Middle East, Syria and terrorism as the key areas of interest,

3.economic and social cooperation, by simply mentioning trade, SMEs, ICT as relevant keywords,

4.youth, by simply mentioning education and training as relevant keywords,

5.migration and development, presented with reference to the need for an integrated and coherent approach as expressed in the Joint Declaration of the 4th EU-Africa Summit in Brussels (April 2014), the 4th EU-Africa Conference on Migration and Development in Rome, in the context of the Rabat Process (of 27 November 2014),

The Valletta Summit on Migration (11–12 November 2015). The Valletta Summit on Migration resulted in the EU setting up an Emergency Trust Fund to promote development in Africa, in return for African countries helping out in the crisis.

Moreover, the key points discussed included the threat to the Schengen Area, securing Europe’s external border and relations with Turkey. The Action Plan [11] is built around five priority domains:

1.Development benefits of migration and addressing root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement,

2.Regular channels for legal migration and mobility,

3.Protection and asylum,

4.Prevention of and fight against irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings,

5.Return, readmission and reintegration.

Switching various documents going back about as far as the EC 2005 communication on “Migration and Development”, The European Parliament resolution [12] is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive documents by mentioning eight areas of intervention, in which a number of practical proposals have been made:

1.Solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility, including search and rescue obligations,

2.Tackling criminal smuggling, trafficking and labor exploitation of irregular migrants,

3.Border management and visa policy, including the role of the Borders Agency and other relevant agencies,

4.Developing safe and lawful routes for asylum seekers and refugees into the EU, including the Union resettlement policy and corresponding integration policies,

5.The strategy on cooperation with third countries, in particular on regional protection programs, resettlement, returns and addressing the root causes of migration,

6.Developing adequate legal economic migration channels,

7. Analysis on how Home Affairs funds are spent in the migration & development context, including emergency funds,

8.Effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System, including the role of the European Asylum Support Office.

The proposal made by the Italian Prime Minister in the Migration Compact [13] for a European strategy on immigration based on an enhanced Partnership and mutual ownership (overturning the key ownership principle on which development aid is still based) presents:

• The EU commitment on priorities on investment projects, EU-Africa bonds, cooperation on security, legal migration opportunities, resettlement schemes,

• The African commitment on priorities on border control and reduction of flows towards Europe, cooperation on returns/readmissions, management of migration and refugee flows, establishment of an asylum system, the fight against trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants.

Some problems on the effectiveness and impact of such declarations should be reported. First, the financial implications are not secondary: The “Migration Compact” approach should be financed through the reorientation of programming of external action financial instruments (EDF, DCI, ENI, etc.…), a new financial “Instrument for the external action in the field of migration” (IEAM), “Common EU Migration Bonds» and a new EU Fund for Investments in third countries. Until now, the inadequacy of financial disbursements and the mismatch between declaration and concrete disbursement appears to constitute a major stumbling block.

Second, in political terms, another relevant limitation is the fact that, despite all the statements on multilateralism and cooperation in migration policy, bilateral migration policies and agreements dominate, and they form a “patchwork” as their designs vary tremendously and there is little coordination among EU member states as well as among North and sub-Saharan African countries, but also within the G7 group. The promotion of inter-ministerial coordination and reduction of institutional segmentation of policy competencies within each country seem a challenge still lying ahead, much less a real coordination and cooperation between countries.

Third, the key structural problem is not tackled head on: mass migration reflects the fact that every year poverty, inequality and the absence of decent job opportunities drive millions of people, including women and children, to leave their home countries. All the measures proposed to control migration flows and mitigate the negative effects of this emergency are temporary and merely palliatives designed solely to win acceptance for a short-term containment strategy. Building more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous societies in the Mediterranean basin, which is part of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, requires a transformative approach to development, rethinking and retooling national and regional economic and social policies, which is beyond the mandate of these plans. The European Commission and the European Council’s restrictive emphasis on the conditionings to provide partner countries with more development funds in exchange for more border control and reduction of flows towards Europe is short-sighted, lacks solidarity and risks being ineffective.

Policy Recommendations beyond the Prevalence of Short-Termism

It is likely that migration to Europe – some as permanent economic migrants, some as temporary workers – will increase in the mid-term for various reasons, including:

• Differentials in expected quality of life increasing,

• Demand for non-traded services from an increasingly affluent and large middle class (demand needs to be factored into policy),

• Much lower transportation costs (esp. low cost airlines) and easier to keep in touch,

• Only quick way to build savings and human capital,

• Demographic decline in Europe,

• Current immigration policies, largely bilateral, may not stem large undocumented migration.

Northern African countries are becoming migration transit countries (with continued flows of refugees and asylum seekers) but also countries of origin of migration flows, whereas sub-Saharan Africa will be experiencing substantial short-term and long-term migration across the various country borders, both economic and refugee migrants.

A key question is how and what level (local/national/regional/international) of governments can support intrnational migration as a development opportunity. And who should do what?

That question, however, goes beyond the framework of the current emergency and negotiations will only succeed if a satisfactory solution is soon found at the level of exceptional financial compensation schemes.

That is an anxiety which must, of course, be taken entirely seriously but, at the same time, it is necessary to raise one’s sights and look beyond the emergency.

Here is what is important in the longer term:

• Better understand the new mobility system: data and integrated monitoring system at 5+5 countries level;

• Promote inter-ministerial coordination and reduction of institutional segmentation of policy competencies within and between 5+5 countries;

• Development aid cannot slow short-term migration, but in the opposite direction it can serve as a catalyst to diffuse the benefits of human mobility (considering the migrants’ capabilities and rights in each type of aid), therefore enhancing “South- South” and regional policy initiatives (such as delivery of key services: health-care, education, agricultural extension, administration) as the bulk of migration in Africa is cross-border migration;

• Reorient political focus also on low-skill migration, which has greater impact on poverty reduction than just on migration of professionals (migrants are not generally the poorest members of communities);

• Focus on job opportunities to employ migrants in decent jobs suited to their skills and providing early access to adequate and permanent work, particularly to youths, recognizing the needs of the refugees themselves who cannot be discriminated against on the basis of a supposed temporary status;

• Whenever possible, implement co-development initiatives (with diaspora involvement as vectors of trade and investment), which are not return projects and involve interbank agreement, microfinance institutions, ad hoc products and services, guarantee funds, local authorities, diaspora, NGOs…;

• Promotion of a process of sustainable inclusion of migrants, with major attention paid to financial inclusion and full economic citizenship;

• Gender mainstreaming as women are key agents of migration and development in many cases, so development policy must be gendered;

• Focus on visa policies to be tailored to migrants’ skills (multi-entry visa and right to citizenship and real integration, rather than compensation schemes and recruiting restraints hard to administer and usually ineffective);

• Adequate budget programming and evaluation of the effectiveness and effects of new laws and policies on current and potential future migrants.


[1] Barca Fabrizio (2009), An Agenda for a Reformed Cohesion Policy: A Place-Based Approach to Meeting European Union Challenges and Expectations, Independent Report prepared at the request of Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Brussels.

[2] Lucas Robert E.B. (2015), «African Migration, in Handbook of the Economics of International Migration». In: Barry R. Chiswick and Paul W. Miller, Handbook on the Economics of International Immigration, Vol. 1B, London, Elsevier.

[3] FRONTEX (2016), Risk analysis for 2016, Warsaw.

[4] IOM and UNICEF (2015), Data Brief: Migration of Children to Europe, 30 November.

[5] IOM (2016), Missing Migrants,

[6] EASO (2016), Latest Asylum Trends, Valletta, April.

[7] OECD (2016), Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015. Settling In, Paris.

[8] Ministres des Affaires Etrangères – Dialogue 5+5 (2015), Relevé des Conclusions, 12ème réunion des Ministres des Affaires Etrangères du Dialogue en Méditerranée occidentale « 5+5 », Tangier, 7 October.

[9] European Commission (2016), Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council and the European Investment Bank on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration, Strasbourg, COM 2016/385 final, Brussels, 7 June.

[10] European Council (2016), European Council meeting (28 June 2016) – Conclusions, EUCO 26/16, Brussels, 28 June.

[11] EU and African leaders (2015), Valletta Summit Action Plan, Valletta, 12 November.

[12] European Parliament (2016), Resolution on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration, 2015/2095 (INI)), Brussels, 12 April.

[13] Italian Prime Minister (2016), Migration Compact. Contribution to an EU strategy for external action on migration, Rome, 21 April.


BARCA FABRIZIO (2009), An Agenda for a Reformed Cohesion Policy: A Place-Based Approach to Meeting European Union Challenges and Expectations, Independent Report prepared at the request of Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Brussels.

EASO (2016), Latest Asylum Trends, Valletta, April.

EU AND AFRICAN LEADERS (2015), Valletta Summit Action Plan, Valletta, 12 November.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (2016), Resolution on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration, 2015/2095 (INI), Brussels, 12 April.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2016), Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council and the European Investment Bank on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration, Strasbourg, COM 2016/385 final, Brussels, 7 June.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL (2016), European Council meeting (28 June 2016) – Conclusions, EUCO 26/16, Brussels, 28 June.

FRONTEX (2016), Risk analysis for 2016,Warsaw.

IOM AND UNICEF (2015), Data Brief: Migration of Children to Europe, 30 November. IOM (2016), Missing Migrants website,

ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (2016), Migration Compact. Contribution to an EU strategy for external action on migration, Rome, 21 April.

LUCAS ROBERT E.B. (2015), «African Migration». In: Barry R. Chiswich and Paul W. Miller, Handbook of the Economics of International Migration, Vol. 1B, London, Elsevier.

MINISTRES DES AFFAIRES ETRANGÈRES – Dialogue 5+5 (2015), Relevé des Conclusions, 12ème réunion des Ministres des Affaires Etrangères du Dialogue en Méditerranée occidentale « 5+5 », Tangier, 7 October. OECD (2016), Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015. Settling In, Paris.

The Promotion of a Common Area of Education and Research in the 5+5 Dialogue

Roderick Pace, Director Jean Monnet Chair. Institute for European Studies. University of Malta

Conceptual Framework

Geographic proximity makes the Western Mediterranean countries ideal for cooperation in many fields, particularly in education and research, the basis of innovation, which stimulates development. This kind of cooperation helps these countries address a number of common challenges. The ten countries are at different levels of economic development, have different factor endowments, speak different languages and some of them trade very little with each other. They are bedevilled by unresolved conflicts that often produce suspicions that poison their political relations. Yet they have preferred peaceful dialogue to open conflict, and the fact that the 5+5 Dialogue has survived for so long testifies to a general willingness to find mutually beneficial outcomes. This paper focuses on the possibilities offered by cooperation in research and education, a sector that has so far kept a very low profile in the 5+5 Dialogue. It is argued that “functional” cooperation in this sector could have longer-term benefits in strengthening transnational ties in the Western Mediterranean. It can also stimulate economic growth, improve the quality of life and help these states overcome serious challenges, such as the negative effects of climate change and youth unemployment.

Let’s Go for the Knowledge Society

A frequently heard piece of advice is that in order to achieve competitiveness states need to aim for the Knowledge Society, which has taken on various meanings. The Knowledge Society is conflated with or given a narrower meaning such as the Knowledge Economy, a neo-liberal euphemism for the commoditisation of knowledge. Both are symbiotically connected, but the Knowledge Society is infinitely richer and offers better prospects for the enhancement of society and quality of life. For the challenge is not merely to link laboratories to the market but to help shape political and democratic institutions, improve health and environmental standards, and strengthen sustainable growth. In other words, we need to focus both on economic growth and on the noneconomic factors that are the basis of human existence.

A Post Washington Consensus Consensus?

In the 1950s and 1960s, leading economic advisers such as UNCTAD’s Raúl Prebisch advocated special trade preferences, regional integration among developing states and internal reforms to help them enhance their competitiveness. Following the fall of communism in Europe, the new approach to economic adaptation became the Washington Consensus, summed up by Joseph Stiglitz as fiscal austerity, privatisation and market liberalisation (2002: 53). John Williamson strongly disagreed with Stiglitz on this definition: “I of course never intended my term to imply policies like capital account liberalization… monetarism, supply-side economics, or a minimal state (getting the state out of welfare provision and income redistribution), which I think of as the quintessentially neoliberal ideas” (2002). Critics of the Washington Consensus, such as Stiglitz, castigate the role of the international economic institutions like the IMF and World Bank for imposing this dogmatic approach on developing countries. Stiglitz later nuanced his appraisal of the Washington Consensus, stating: “in the minds of most people around the world, (it) has come to refer to development strategies focusing around privatisation, liberalisation, and macro-stability (meaning mostly price stability); a set of policies predicated upon a strong faith – stronger than warranted – in unfettered markets and aimed at reducing, or even minimising, the role of government” (2004). This led him to speak about the “Post Washington Consensus Consensus”.

The “Post Washington Consensus Consensus” is based on the rejection of the notion that markets on their own are able to improve economies and societies and achieve higher degrees of social justice and fairness, which are also indispensable for stable economic growth. As Stiglitz reminds us, Adam Smith was more aware of the limitations of markets than his latter day followers and social cohesion is important if an economy is to function (2002: 219). This notion can be applied erga omnes to other aspects of the development puzzle, such as the achievement of the Knowledge Society. But have we replaced a semi-fashionable policy (the Washington Consensus) with a more fashionable one (the Knowledge Society)?

Do Rich and Poor Benefit from Research, Education and Innovation?

The developed world, including the EU (e.g. its Horizon 2020 Programme), has recognised the need for a holistic approach to knowledge, education, innovation and growth. A comment by Abby Joseph Cohen (2011), former senior investment strategist and President of the Global Markets Institute (GMI) at Goldman Sachs, is also applicable to most developed countries: “The long-term record of success of the US economy is inexorably linked to a growing and well-educated work force, ample research and development expenditures by both public and private sectors, the availability of capital to fund expansion, and access to markets.”

But what about the developing world? In 1999, the World Bank acknowledged that “today’s most technologically advanced economies are truly knowledge-based…creating millions of knowledge-related jobs in an array of disciplines that have emerged overnight” (World Bank, 1999:16). However, in 2002 it observed that “developing and transition economies are affected by these transformations (Knowledge Economy) but are not yet reaping all of the potential benefits. Indeed, the capacity to generate and harness knowledge in the pursuit of sustainable development and improved living standards is not shared equally among nations. There are striking disparities between rich and poor countries in science and technology (S&T) investment and capacity” (World Bank, 2002: 9).

For many years efforts were made to expand education in developing countries by trying to close the gap in enrolment rates with the OECD countries. But this soon gave way to stronger concerns about the quality of education and the efficient use of available resources (Hanushek and Woßmann, 2010: 245-252). The causal link between more education and development is not straightforward. A study by Glenda Kruss, Simon McGrath, Il-haam Petersen and Michael Gastrowa (2015) highlights that the demand for quality graduates is profoundly shaped by the global workings of capitalism and decisions about production locations and technology mixes, which means that geography, skills, types of education systems and networks of companies as well as the international division of production have to be considered when deciding how and what sectors to invest in higher education.

The Main Developmental Features of the Western Mediterranean

The countries of the Western Mediterranean region face high unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and a lack of competitiveness. They tend to score comparatively low in the Global Innovation Index 2015 when compared to their peers (rankings in brackets): France (21), Malta (26), Spain (27), Portugal (30), Italy (31), Tunisia (76), Morocco (78) and Algeria (128)(Dutta et al., 2015)

In May 2016, the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in the Western Mediterranean countries was: Italy (11.5%), France (9.9%), Malta (4.1%) Portugal (12.4%) and Spain (19.8%), but the figures for youth unemployment (Quarter 4, 2014) stood at: Italy (42%), France (24.6%), Malta (11.1%), Portugal (33.3%) and Spain (51.7%) (Eurostat, 2016). ILO statistics for unemployment and youth unemployment of the Maghreb also show a problem of youth unemployment: Algeria (25%), Libya (49%), Morocco (20%), Tunisia (38%), while for Mauritania no figures are available (ILOSTAT, 2016). The latter figures understate the true situation since young people’s labour force participation is known to be well below international levels.

The evidence seems to show that the countries on the two shores of the Western Mediterranean basin face a similar dilemma: low scores in innovation, a contributory factor to fewer opportunities for young people. This phenomenon is shown by the high levels of youth unemployment and an oversupply of labour for low-skilled vacancies in Europe (Martin, 2012). A similar situation exists in the Maghreb: unemployment and underemployment among youth and highly educated people was a significantly visible phenomenon in the region even before the Arab Spring (Achy, 2010).

World Bank (2014) assessments show that access to education and literacy rates in the Arab World have improved considerably in the last three decades while governments have invested more in this sector as a percentage of GDP. However, the level of education lags behind. Basic skills are not being learnt, as shown by international standardised tests; there is a pervasive mismatch between acquired skills and labour market requirements. Furthermore, demographic projections show that the region’s youth population (up to 24 years old) will grow steadily by about two million by 2015, then surge by about 10 million between 2015 and 2030. This “Youth Bulge” will increase the demand for education services at all levels and will place immense pressure on existing education institutions.

On the European side, things are not much better. At the height of the euro crisis, unemployed youth throughout the EU, and more acutely in Southern Europe, was referred to as the “lost generation” (Leach et al., 2016; Asmussen, 2014). Southern European countries, particularly Greece, are not spending enough on education and R&D, which hurts their future competitiveness.

Analysis: Challenges Faced by the Arab countries

Three UNDP Arab Knowledge Development Reports (2009-14) provide some indicators on the way forward in the Maghreb. The first report (2009) concluded that “the Arab region is importing and consuming knowledge products without producing them,” let alone localising and nurturing knowledge. It recommended studying the status of the “emerging youth” and their readiness to assume the responsibility of achieving progress and establishing the Knowledge Society. The second report (2010-11) addressed the “cognitive gap”, urging the prioritisation of the development of cognitive human capital.

The report advises a review of education policy in order to allow young Arab generations to become a human force able to build, renew and actively participate in a comprehensive development process. The third report (2014) identifies the status of Arab youth with respect to their possession of knowledge, cultural, economic and political skills and activities that enable them to contribute to building the Knowledge Society.

The Role of the 5+5 Dialogue: A Historical Perspective

Given these gaps on both sides of the Western Mediterranean, it makes sense for the countries of the region to increase their cooperation in education and research, the springboard for innovation. From its very beginnings, the 5+5 Dialogue was intended as an informal dialogue to add value to existing multilateral initiatives at both regional and sub-regional levels and this is the role that it should maintain.

The 5+5 Rome Declaration (1990) refers to the Development of Human Resources, including education and scientific research. It calls for the strengthening of cultural, scientific and technical cooperation between the 10 states covering cooperation among universities, scientific, cultural and educational institutions, the training of personnel and youth exchanges (Rome Declaration, 1990).

Research cooperation in the broader Mediterranean region began with the Barcelona Process in 1995 (Barcelona Declaration, 1995) following the establishment by the EU of the Monitoring Committee for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation to monitor and promote cooperation in Research, Technology and Development (MOCO), which later morphed into the Group of Senior Officials in Research and Innovation (EU-Med GSO). From 2008 this was incorporated into the Union for the Mediterranean (El-Zoheiry, 2015). The GSO organised the first (and only) Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference for Higher Education and Research in Cairo in June 2007, which led to the Cairo Declaration. A follow-up ministerial conference is scheduled for May 2017 in Malta.

In 2012, the Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Research and Innovation met in Barcelona. It called for a renewed partnership in research and innovation, based on the principles of “co-ownership, mutual interest and shared benefit” (Barcelona, 2012).

That same year, the European Commission (2012) renewed the call for international cooperation in research and innovation and particularly, but not exclusively, in the Neighbourhood. In March 2013, the Council recognised the added value that could be reaped from international cooperation in this sector, including with developing and neighbouring states by focusing on objectives of mutual benefit.

On 22 December 2014, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain proposed a Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean (PRIMA), focusing on the development and application of innovative solutions for food systems and water resources. The initiative is based on Article 185 (TFEU) [1] and falls under Horizon 2020 (H2020). Significantly, Tunisia, a 5+5 Dialogue member state, joined the EU’s H2020 on 1 December 2015. Seven non-EU countries, namely Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, showed their readiness to participate in PRIMA and almost all of them already participate in an EU programme (FP7 and H2020). A PRIMA stakeholders’ event took place in Malta in March 2016. Following impact assessments, a European Commission proposal to set up PRIMA is expected to be discussed by Council in autumn 2016. Malta will almost certainly lead the negotiations on this file within the Council Working Group on Research when it takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The support of the 5+5 Dialogue for this initiative is also likely to be endorsed at the next meeting of the forum in Tunis, scheduled for the end of March 2017. In preparation for all these initiatives, the topic will be discussed in back-to-back meetings by the EU-Med GSO and the 5+5 Dialogue GSOs on the 11- 12 October 2016.

Several platforms were created to facilitate Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation, such as the INCO-Net projects; the MIRA (FP7 Mediterranean Research and Innovation action, coordinated by CSIC in Spain from 2008–2012), MED-Spring (FP7 Mediterranean Science Research and Innovation Gateway, coordinated by CIHEAM Bari in Italy from 2012–2016) and more recently MERID (H2020 Middle East Research and Innovation Dialogue, coordinated by EMUNI, Slovenia from 2015–2018 (European Commission, 2012). In addition to the Bi-regional InCo-Nets, the FP7 has also funded bilateral CSA (Bilats). These target cooperation with specific countries with which the EU has science and technology agreements. The Maghreb countries have similar bilateral agreements with the EU.

The 5+5 Dialogue plays a significant role in spurring on diplomatic action, or the science diplomacy that underlies the process. At the second 5+5 Heads of State and Government Summit held in Valletta between the 5-6 October 2012, the leaders of the “Western Mediterranean Forum”, supported initiatives of creating an effective and competitive Regional Innovation Ecosystem through the reinforcement of cooperation in the areas of science, technology and innovation policies, training and R&D activities and to develop education and training. They linked youth employability to the development of vocational education and training. They also called for the setting up of a Euro- Mediterranean qualifications framework based on the recognition and transfer of skills and qualifications in the 10 countries and encouraged higher education institutions to sign cooperation agreements to foster the mobility of students and teachers, to implement joint degrees according to the respective national rules and to create common academic research programmes (Malta Declaration, 2012).

In 2013, Morocco convened the first 5+5 Ministerial Conference for Cooperation in Scientific Research in the Western Mediterranean, which met in Rabat on 19 and 20 September. The Ministers emphasised the link between scientific research and socioeconomic development, its contribution to sustained economic growth and its role as a driving force in the Knowledge Economy. The second Conference took place on 24 March 2015 in Madrid and the third is scheduled to take place in Tunis in 2017.

At the Madrid conference, Ministers stressed “the role that higher education, research and innovation plays in growth improvement and job creation in the Western Mediterranean area and endorsed a work programme for 2015-2016, which defines concrete steps to develop cooperation in this field (UfM Secretariat, 2015; Madrid Ministerial Conference, 2015). The Ministers created the 5+5 GSO with the task of following up on the agreed work programme. To date, the only successful action has been an Italian-led one consisting of a Summer School on Sustainable Blue Growth organised by the University of Trieste. Actions are being pursued by Spain and Italy to open up their research infrastructures to the Maghreb states while France plans a networking event for February 2017 to bring together scientists from the 5+5. Tunisia has proposed a mini-ERANET for the 5+5 whereby member states pool finance in support of common regional projects. Until June 2017, Malta is not participating in any of the initiatives in view of the impending Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Conclusion – Some Points on the Way Ahead

This paper has focused on the major challenges facing the Western Mediterranean countries, particularly developmental ones, and the need to address youth unemployment, though not exclusively. We have dwelt on the need to improve education and training institutions, research and innovation to stimulate growth and the role that the 5+5 Dialogue has taken on over the years. The participation of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretariat for ensuring the efficient implementation and follow-up of the agreed joint actions taken in the framework of the 5+5 Dialogue on Higher Education, Research and Innovation is a wise step as was the setting up of the GSO 5+5. It also helps in bridging the 5+5 cooperation with other actions being pursued within the context of the UfM and in the EU. The 5+5 should remain a forum for dialogue and coordination, where governments can map out the steps ahead, which can then be piloted by other organisations such as the UfM Secretariat and the European Commission. The 5+5 acts as an essential node of science diplomacy to ensure that cooperation gets off the ground.

PRIMA is still in its transitional stage, but it is very important for the expansion of 5+5 cooperation in this sector. Some cooperation is already taking place under ERANET MED and ARIMNET, which provides the Maghreb countries with the opportunity of experiencing international cooperation firsthand. Malta is trying to secure the inclusion of Israel and Palestine in PRIMA, yet another example of soft diplomacy that can have a longer-term effect on conflict resolution.

Education, innovation and research lie in what can be described as “soft politics”, in which states find it easier to cooperate since they do not have to deal with the more burning issues of sovereignty. It is also an area where mutually beneficial results can be attained more rapidly, particularly when cooperation among research and higher education institutions is expanded to include several areas of concern, such as climate change, urbanisation, migration, water, alternative energy, fish stocks and maritime development, to mention a few. All these issues are extremely relevant to the countries of the Western Mediterranean.

There are several challenges that need to be tackled to achieve meaningful results. A 2009 IAI Conference report states: “Programs of cooperation between the two regions (Europe and the Maghreb) have been targeted towards higher education and research, while little is done in the field of basic education and vocational training. The Maghreb countries themselves are part of this problem. Experts agreed that (lack of) mobility continued to be a defining feature of the contemporary Maghreb and the Western Mediterranean (for Moroccan seasonal workers, “Barcelona is closer than Casablanca”). Nevertheless, further improvements in terms of sanctioned mobility are badly needed and this can only be attained through a drastic change in the EU’s visa policy, to foster the free movement of people, especially among the younger generations” (Colombo, 2009).

It is also important to make use of existing structures and funding programmes in the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument and EU programmes such as Horizon 2020, which encourage cooperation with third countries. There must also be a better coordination of bilateral aid, which is extremely difficult to achieve – not to mention synchronisation with the activities of international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, the IMF, the Arab league and major aid providers. The aim should be effectiveness.

The goal of achieving the Knowledge Society provides sufficient scope for the mobilisation of human and material resources to improve the quality of lives of the people of the Western Mediterranean and help them overcome their main challenges, both longterm and short-term.


[1] Article 185 (ex Article 169 TEC) “In implementing the multiannual framework programme, the Union may make provision, in agreement with the Member States concerned, for participation in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States, including participation in the structures created for the execution of those programmes.”


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Encouraging Common Health Strategies in the 5+5 Countries

Rafael Vilasanjuan, Director of Policy and Global Development, Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)


Since its beginnings in Rome in 1990, the 5+5 Dialogue has been moving forward and adopting a series of recommendations, allowing it to become a benchmark that gives added value to cooperation ties through different points of view on common problems. If security, stability, economic growth and inclusive human development have defined shared objectives from the start, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals open up a new framework for reflection and joint work, in which health should promote shared strategies and knowledge to face problems common to the whole region.

With the new framework defined at a global level, development is no longer viewed as a mere transfer of resources between countries with advanced economies and those with low or medium wages. Instead cooperation has been transformed into a common strategy of knowledge exchange, with defined common objectives and with impact as the desired return on investment. In the field of health this has become even more evident. None of the main challenges that we face, from the re-emergence of epidemics like Ebola to access to innovation to deal with chronic and infectious diseases or environmental factors that end up affecting health, can be solved within individual countries. It is only at a regional level that new chances for cooperation emerge that can also offer much more ambitious results. In fact, the sooner we are able to identify and understand the common challenges within the field of the 5+5 Dialogue, the sooner we will be able to prevent common risks. Health is perhaps one of the most important.

The Ebola epidemic, which emerged at the end of 2015 and whose epicentre was located in countries further south than the sphere of our 5+5 Dialogue, nevertheless represented a major security risk for all the countries in the region, both for those in North Africa and those in Southern Europe. The hope that in times of globalisation we might close borders and isolate health problems to the countries where they have arisen was shown to be an illusion which lacked a common strategy, beyond the directives of multilateral organisations. Faced with a shared risk there were no structures capable of coordinating a common response or of creating regional spaces for knowledge exchange. In the health sphere, Ebola is just the tip of the iceberg of common challenges faced by the region. Demographic transition and reduction of infant mortality, epidemiological transition, migratory flows or improvements to maternal and child health are some of the issues where closer health cooperation within the 5+5 Dialogue framework can reinforce the coming together of the Sustainable Development Goals for Health between countries in the region.

Within this framework, we propose an initiative to develop a Regional Health Observatory that develops knowledge exchange networks between academia, researchers, think tanks, ministries and regional health experts. The Observatory which we at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have begun to work on together with the Moroccan Ministry of Health and the support of the Spanish government is intended as an initiative for exchanging regional knowledge. It is open to the participation of public and private institutions to promote the transfer of knowledge and promote a network response to the main regional health challenges.

The Epidemiological Transition

If the economic gap between the two sides of the Mediterranean continues to be the main challenge for development policies amongst the ten countries, within the health field the difference between countries is not so large. If we take, for example, life expectancy indicators in countries like Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco, the population average is between 75 and 78 years. This means that the difference with their immediate neighbours on the other side of the Mediterranean, such as Spain or Italy, who enjoy an average life expectancy of 82 (one of the best life expectancy averages in the world) is only small. Unlike the economy, a major gap does not occur between the north and south of the 5+5 region. The major difference is between these Maghreb countries and their sub-Saharan neighbours, where life expectancy can be between 15 and 20 years less (in Mali it is 58, for example), by just crossing a border.

In health terms, North Africa is much closer to Europe than to all its southern neighbours. Apart from Mauritania, where the main cause of death is infectious diseases, for all the rest of the region when we count the years of healthy life lost to morbidity we find cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in first place and cancer as a growing cause of mortality and morbidity. This is a panorama very similar to both sides of the Mediterranean.

Chronic diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity) that cause 88% of death in the economically advanced countries of Southern Europe now reach 40% in emerging countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 63% of diabetics now live in developing countries (when just 20 years ago this was very rare in these countries), and the forecast is for this to rise to over 75% in the year 2025.

A proliferation of factors is accelerating the epidemiological transition in countries to the south of the 5+5 Dialogue region: changes in eating and work habits, and environmental and climate changes, as well as the ability to improve life expectancy and an older population.

The challenge of the epidemiological transition which is being experienced by North African countries is twofold. On the one hand, they end up acting as a barrier against the mobility of people coming from neighbouring countries to the south. These people have different types of illness which their health services cannot respond to, with the subsequent risk for the local population. On the other hand, their health services must advance and adapt to the needs of society, developing new health strategies and providing better adapted therapeutic solutions. This is a challenge that can now benefit from regional collaboration. The closer the countries of the region are brought together by the epidemiological map, the easier it is to share information and exchange knowledge.

Migration and Health

Migratory flows, as a consequence on the one hand of demographic growth on the whole African continent and on the other of the conditions of mobility and economic development in African countries, are revealing what could be one of the great regional tensions. With some forecasts doubling the African population in just two generations, it is likely that migratory tension will increase, especially in the 5+5 Dialogue region, creating new health challenges, as a consequence of the movement of people or their integration into countries in the region.

The political and institutional response to this phenomenon is, in the best of cases, partial and always out of date. In the worst, it has intensified risks and reduced opportunities. A small proportion of forced displacements are covered by the 1951 Convention on Refugees, but the reality shows how incomplete and arbitrary its application is almost all over the world. Other displaced people (such as those who flee from climate disasters or economically impoverished zones) do not even have the opportunity to seek international protection. As for international worker mobility, its regulation is subject to the same ideological and institutional parameters that were valid a century ago. The inflexibility, micromanagement and fragmentation of the model ignore any lessons learnt in other fields of international economic relations. The result is a system subject to instability and irregular immigration, which creates far too many risks and does not take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities associated with mobility. Health is one of these.

Two recent phenomena have shown how this region is especially susceptible, if not to say vulnerable, without a common strategy to face the main challenges arising from global mobility and migration. On the one hand, the Ebola epidemic raised all the alarms, without a coordinated response being found for the cases in transit which could have affected the region. On the other, the specific case of the crisis of refugees trying to enter Europe, with the EU institutions and the member states closing their borders and showing that the migratory model is not only dysfunctional but also able to shift the problem to the emerging countries of North Africa, together with the resulting health problems.

With over a million immigrants trying to reach Europe, 2015 has been defined as a year of crisis. The intensification of crises in other parts of the world (some of latent violence and slow and constant displacement, such as in Somalia or Eritrea, and others more severe, such as in Syria) has caused the greatest movement of immigrants and refugees to Europe since the Second World War. With the closing of the borders in the so-called Balkan route, the tension has moved west, involving all the countries in the 5+5 Dialogue region.

If we think in historical terms, migration in the Mediterranean represents the greatest flow of people between north and south on a global level. Despite this, and with few exceptions, Europe’s response has been one of containment, creating large population clusters in transit that remain in the Maghreb countries, where there is greater pressure, the number of migrants is growing and, given their limited resources, they need basic services to survive. Migration has a great impact on public health and, as a result, on the health services in the countries where the migrant population clusters occur. Where these populations are unable to integrate or find work, these needs increase. Even if only in the interests of regional stability and security, fair access to health for the most vulnerable must be ensured to avoid the spreading of infectious diseases, which represent a risk to the population that their health services are not prepared to respond to. This assistance should also cover needs related to the migratory process itself (violence, mental health, chronic illnesses…).

There are reasons for thinking that the different variables affecting health and migratory challenges should not be faced by individual countries. The idea of routes is much more suitable to answer the main health challenges. For this reason it is essential to be able to develop a more open and geographically comprehensive regional vision which, bearing in mind international institutions and countries, can evolve through knowledge exchange. In other words, when faced with the enormous challenge that migration represents in this region, a country by country response is not an option.

Challenges and Common Strategy

Epidemiological transition and health and migration challenges have been identified as key themes when initiating regional cooperation projects in which knowledge exchange is paramount. Nevertheless, many other areas with consequences for the whole region should also form part of a strategy that gives priority to joint responses.

Without doubt the area of health with the greatest difference between northern and southern 5+5 Dialogue countries is that of infant mortality rate. This factor is key to understanding fertility rates and, as a result, demographic transition, being another of the biggest factors influencing migration processes for young people. Reducing infant mortality and getting the figures on either side of the Mediterranean closer together is one of the main goals reflected in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is one of the most effective aims of regional cooperation for enabling demographic stability and thus being able to plan development policies that give a more adequate response to the needs of the population.

To face up to these challenges within the framework of the 5+5 Dialogue we propose the creation of a health observatory open to the whole scientific community, to academia and to universities which is able to mobilise a network of health experts focused on the main problems that affect the region and that require joint responses to face common health challenges. An effort to consolidate an open process at the heart of the 5+5 Dialogue, particularly with regards to the creation of networks and cooperation between think tanks to give concrete responses to health challenges and to guarantee regular meetings, as well as creating synergies between the different regional actors.

Prioritising the themes defined within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Observatory intends to make advances in all those regional themes which can benefit from a joint vision, including:

• Epidemiological transition

• Migration and health

• Health and security

• Environment and health, incorporating the dimension of chronic illnesses

• Maternal and child health and demographic transition.

Epidemiological Transition

The MENA (Middle Eastern and North Africa) region is characterised by major health disparities as well as inequalities across all the national health systems. Moreover, statistics constantly reveal dramatic changes throughout the region. In some MENA countries, progress has been made in controlling the spread of communicable diseases, while in others, where this epidemiological transition has not yet occurred, epidemics are still among the leading causes of death. One of the Observatory’s top priorities is epidemiological surveillance to monitor and prevent both the spread of infectious diseases and the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases. The ultimate goal is to control the spread of infections and to strengthen local capacities to face the challenge presented by non-communicable diseases.

Migration and Health

With respect to migration, the Observatory’s objective is to improve research methods and ensure that the knowledge generated is translated into practice, policy and training. One of the key activities in the effort to improve support for migrant populations is to generate and provide access to the data that can give us a better understanding of the fluctuating situation and the repercussions of changes on health and public health systems. As the countries of the Mediterranean – north and south – are affected by some of the world’s most intensive migratory flows, it is vital to assess the health needs of migrant populations, identify knowledge gaps, improve access to data on the current situation, and provide reliable evidence to inform decisions on the response to public health needs. The Observatory will work with platforms, public administrations, and national statistics offices, as well as a number of non-governmental organisations, to obtain the reliable data needed. The aim is to create a regional research hub capable of translating knowledge and scientific evidence into action, both in terms of policy for decision-makers and the improvement of access to healthcare and the response to public health needs.

Global Health Security

Global health security assesses global challenges and threats related to the field of health and explores how these issues can be dealt with in the context of international affairs and national foreign policy. Three aspects stand out in particular: the threat posed by diseases within and beyond national borders; the limited access to medicines, treatments and research in certain areas; and the relationship between global health and international policy. Observatories play a major role in global health security because their main activities are monitoring disease, dealing with health issues that transcend national borders, and improving access to health care in the areas where they operate. Health security is a major challenge in this region because the MENA countries are highly susceptible to migratory flows, particularly from sub-Saharan countries. Since the need to prioritise global health security has been identified, working together to address these issues has become a priority for all the countries in the region.

Environment and Health: Incorporating the Dimension of Chronic Diseases

Globalisation, as a result of its negative impact on the environment, has been accompanied by the emergence of new problems affecting the health and well-being of the world’s populations. These negative impacts include water and air pollution, which cause respiratory disease, malnutrition, and infections due to contaminated water. Globalisation also drives major demographic shifts as a high percentage of the population tends to migrate to one or more attractive areas (cities) for practical and financial reasons. This rural-to-urban migration gives rise to crowded settlements characterised by poor sanitation, a setting that contributes to the spread of disease. The observatory’s principle objective in the area of health and environment will be to tackle the key issues – water and air pollution – with a particular focus on urban planning from the standpoint of public health.

Maternal Health and Child Care

A great deal of work is being done in this region to prevent the death of millions of children (under 5 years of age) and to safeguard mothers before, during and after pregnancy. The major effort made to tackle maternal and child care over the last two decades has resulted in a decrease of 66% in the maternal mortality ratio and of 60% in the child mortality ratio in countries such as Morocco. However, new-born mortality remains high and much work still needs to be done. Maternal and child health is a priority and an important area of work for the governments and academic institutions in most of the MENA countries and the plan is to strengthen networks and promote the mutual exchange of knowledge.

Demographic Transition

The Maghreb region, like most developing areas, has experienced a progressive increase in population since the 1900s. In this region, however, this rise has been followed by a demographic transition characterised by a continuing high birth rate accompanied by a fall in the death rate. Owing to this trend, these countries will, in the future, face the issues that currently affect European countries, when the percentage of the working population increases, eventually resulting in an increase in the dependent population. ILO (2008) predictions point to a steady rise in the dependency ratio in North Africa until However, as long as fertility rates remain high, this dependency does not pose a major threat to the long-term solvency of public pensions. In terms of health, however, a whole series of new actions will be required to meet the new situation, and appropriate evidence will be needed to support new policies and strengthen the public health systems.

Each of these themes will seek the involvement of leading experts to ensure north-south, south-south cooperation and triangular development, which enables the necessary exchange to create new ideas capable of influencing administrations and regional political decision-makers. The first step towards the creation of the regional health observatory has been taken with the joint initiative between the Moroccan Ministry of Health, the Spanish Government and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). In order for the initiative to be successful, it must continue to widen, looking for mutual support from academic centres, think tanks and universities, promoting alliances between public and private actors across the region. This should be an open initiative that begins to function with a single objective: to become a benchmark in health that can make advances in the great challenges for the global health agenda, by first responding to the region’s common health challenges.



SAMER, J. RITA, G. MARWAN, K. (et. al). Public health in the Arab world, Cambridge University Press, 03/12

UNION FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN- HEALTH FORUM, Health Senior Official meeting, Brussels, June, 30th 2011